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Transforming Society

Securing Rights

Restoring Dignity

Media Statement: The South African Human Rights Commission welcomes the Equality Court’s decision on the BLF and hate speech

Tuesday, 07 May 2019

Attention: Editors and Reporters

The South African Human Rights Commission (“the Commission”) welcomes yesterday’s judgment by the Johannesburg Magistrates’ Court (sitting as the Equality Court), which ruled that the slogan “Land or Death” amounts to hate speech in terms of section 10 of the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act 4 of 2000 (”the Equality Act”) and in terms of section 16 (2) (c) of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996 (“the Constitution”).
In March 2018, the Commission acting in the public interest and as a representative for a complainant, approached the Equality Court seeking, among others, an order from the Court declaring certain speech, including this slogan, and written statements by the Black First Land First (BLF) party, and directed at white South African persons, as hate speech on the basis of race.

Yesterday, 6 May 2019, the Court ordered the BLF to:

•    Remove any social media posts made by BLF, using #LandorDeath within one month from the date of the order;

•    Remove the phrase “Land or Death” from wherever it may appear on BLF’s website, including from the Soweto Declaration, and to remove this phrase from clothing worn in public by their members within one month from the date of the order;

•    Issue an unconditional apology to South Africans, in writing – for using the slogan “Land or Death”. The apology must be provided to the South African Human Rights Commission for approval and be published on the Commission’s website within one month from the date of the order.

Further to the above, the Court has directed the Clerk of the Equality Court, in terms of section 21(2)(n) of the Equality Act, to submit the matter to the Director of Public Prosecutions for the possible institution of criminal proceedings against BLF in terms of the common law or relevant legislation.

The SAHRC welcomes the Court’s decision on this matter.  Hate speech undermines the constitutional principles of equality, dignity and freedom. The BLF and all political parties have the potential to greatly influence public discourse and conduct and as such cannot propagate rhetoric of violence and death aimed at any group. Given the urgency of achieving social cohesion in South Africa, the Commission hopes that this ruling will go a long way to promote social cohesion and a greater awareness of the values on which our constitutional democracy is built.

The Commission calls upon all South Africans to act within the parameters of our Constitution and the law and to use appropriate mechanisms and institutions - such as the SAHRC and the Equality Courts – to seek remedies and recourse for violations of human rights.

For more information contact Mr Buang Jones, Gauteng Provincial Manager on 078 617 0476 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The South African Human Rights Commission.

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About us

The Human Rights Commission is the national institution established to support constitutional democracy. It is committed to promote respect for, observance of and protection of human rights for everyone without fear or favour.

Braampark Forum 3, 33 Hoofd Street, Braamfontein

011 877 3600 (Switchboard)

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