HCWG Advocacy Brief 2022 03 22

The State of Hate in South Africa in 2021

The HCWG is a multi-sectoral network of civil society organisations and private individuals set up to spearhead advocacy and reform initiatives pertaining to hate crimes in South Africa and the region. Members of the network work in diverse sectors, namely: in LGBTQI+ and sexual orientation, gender identity and expression and sex characteristics (SOGIESC) rights; sex worker rights; migrant, refugee and asylum seeker rights; religious organisations; academic and research entities; gender-based entities; and broader human rights organisations.

In February 2018, the HCWG launched its Hate and Bias Crime Monitoring report. The report captured the findings of a longitudinal research study (2013 – 2017) in five provinces of South Africa to gauge the types, nature and impact of hate crimes perpetrated against individuals and communities in those provinces, namely the Eastern Cape, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, and Western Cape.

Later that same year, on 13 April 2018, the first Prevention and Combatting of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill (the Bill) was introduced to National Assembly. After lapsing in May 2019, the Bill was revived on 29 October 2019, and has this year been the subject of a call for comments by the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Constitutional Development between 26 August and 1 October 2021.

This Advocacy Brief aims to give policy and law makers an impression of hate crime, hate speech, and prejudice that the HCWG member organisations have encountered in 2021 alone to illustrate the unacceptably high and ongoing cost in human life, equality, and dignity of the long delay in finalising a hate crimes law in our country.

This brief has been prepared with reference to:

  • The research, case files, client stories, and direct field experiences of HCWG member organisations in 2021
  • Online and other media reports of hate crime incidents in South Africa in 2021

This brief is not an exhaustive representation of the prevalence or the nature and impact of all hate crime that has taken place this last year. Such a brief would be impossible to develop at this time, as South Africa does not record hate crime as a crime category, and does not provide crime statistics in this regard.

This underscores the importance of the Bill, which will for the first time in South African law mandate the collection and reporting of hate crime statistics, both to Parliament and the public. This data collection and reporting is critical for the effective monitoring of hate crime, and for the design of evidence-based and effective interventions to prevent and combat hate crime.

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