SAHRC: Malema comments not hate speech

Complaints against the EFF members include Malema's call in November 2016 for all land in South Africa to be returned to black people.

JOHANNESBURG - The South African Human Rights Commission says controversial comments by members of the EFF, including party leader Julius Malema, do not constitute hate speech.

The SAHRC says the commission received five complaints against the party since 2016.

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In 2016, Malema told supporters outside the Newcastle Magistrate's Court, “We are not calling for the slaughter of white people‚ at least for now".

The commission says it is concerned about Malema's utterances despite its findings.

"Although the statement can be construed by white group as hurtful, the context is important. Mr Malema said white people will not be killed under his leadership."

In 2017, the EFF sang the song "Kiss the Boer", which the commission found did not amount to hate speech or racism and does not have a psychological impact on white Afrikaaners.

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The commission also deemed Malema's comments about Indian people, in 2017, as not harmful to Indian people.

At the time, Malema told supporters, "Here in Durban, here in KZN, everything strategic is given to Indians ... even big tenders ... they are the ones who own everything.

"They are ill-treating our people worse than the Boer Afrikaners treated our people. This is not anti-Indian, it's the truth. They must treat our people properly."

The SAHRC's Dr Shanelle van der Berg added, "Malema's utterances might not amount to hate speech but are still problematic in a society that's still trying to heal from the injustices of the past."

The commission says none of the EFF's statements passed the legal threshold of hate speech. 

"Even though the statements do not amount to hate speech, we are appealing to all South Africans to conduct themselves in a culture of Human Rights," CEO Tseliso Thipanyane said.