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Transforming Society

Securing Rights

Restoring Dignity

Media Statement: Commission Calls on Senior Political Party Members to Exercise Their Right to Freedom of Expression, Responsibly

Attention: Editors and Reporters
9 September 2020

The South African Human Rights Commission (the Commission or the SAHRC) has noted with concern the utterances and behaviour of members - or persons purporting to be members - of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), since Monday the 7th September 2020. Following a series of protests organised against chain retail group Clicks, in response to a racially divisive advertisement by TRESemme, publicised by Clicks, the Commission reminds the political principals of the political party that they have a responsibility to conduct themselves in a manner that is respectful of the law and the Constitution. These senior party officials need to conduct themselves in a manner befitting of their office and befitting of the oath they have taken to uphold the Constitution.

Freedom of Expression within South Africa, is not a limitless right which can be exercised in an unfettered manner without any regard for the gravity of one’s utterances. This right should be exercised with responsibility and due regard for the rights of others. The Commission is thus deeply concerned with a series of disparaging remarks made by senior party leaders of the EFF.

One such instance, has been evidenced by footage which has emerged of the party leader, Honourable Julius Malema, directing disparaging comments at members of the South African Police Service (SAPS), who were exercising their legal and Constitutional mandate during a protest at a Clicks retail outlet. The SAHRC is deeply concerned by these remarks, as Honourable Malema, as a Member of Parliament and a senior party official should lead by example in allowing the SAPS to conduct their work of maintaining safety and peace. The SAHRC continues to call on the need for security services and the SAPS to act in a manner that ensures the respect for human rights, however, the Commission calls for the SAPS to be respected whilst carrying out their lawful mandate.

Further, the Commission has noted the harassment members of the media have endured whilst reporting on these protests. These actions are a direct violation of the right to freedom of expression, particularly the freedom of the press to report on matters in the public interest.

The Commission is cognisant that that there has been widespread dismay in the wake of the Clicks advertisement. The Commission has however noted with great concern the vandalism and threats directed at staff and customers of Clicks and welcomes the interdict granted by the Gauteng High Court, barring such further activities.
The Commission therefore calls for caution to be exercised to ensure the respect of human rights of all, including human dignity and to prevent further violations of the right to equality.

– Ends –
Issued by the South African Human Rights Commission
Gushwell Brooks – Communications Co-ordinator Tel: 082 645 8573 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.

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