The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) and Afrikaans singer Sunette Bridges have reached an agreement in their matter heard before the Equality Court of South Africa. The SAHRC, Western Cape, lodged a case at the Equality Court against Bridges during 2014 concerning the allegedly racist nature of the commentary on her Facebook page.
The agreement, which has been made an order of the Equality Court by Judge Desai, confirms and declares that the controversial comments about which the SAHRC complained amount to hate speech and harassment in terms of the Equality Act. The order further recognises that Ms. Bridges did take steps in the past to address and remove racist commentary from her pages.
According to the court order, Ms. Bridges must regularly monitor her Facebook pages and remove any content that amounts to hate speech, harassment, or the inciting of violence. Ms. Bridges must further post messages on her Facebook pages in both English and Afrikaans, distancing herself from any form of hate speech and harassment. She is further obliged to warn users of the content of the Court Order and that comments promoting hate speech, harassment and those inciting violence will not be tolerated on her pages.
Karam Singh, Western Cape Provincial Manager of the SAHRC, states, "The South African Human Rights Commission welcomes the order and will be now be watching closely the steps that Ms Bridges and others take to ensure that their pages are not used as a platform for hate speech and racism. The SAHRC further welcomes a constructive dialogue with those persons who may feel a sense of marginalisation and bitterness at the new society South Africa is in the process of forging. All persons, of whatever race, religion or creed, ought to feel welcome in our unified society and to be able to enjoy freedom of expression. But that expression ought not to be aimed at vilifying and spreading hatred against other groups in South Africa.”
Brigit Rubinstein, a Director in Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr’s Dispute Resolution practice, represented the SAHRC in this matter.