14 December 2018

South Africa: Sonke Gender Justice Condemns Escalation of 'Violent Political Rhetoric and Posturing'

The escalation of what it called violent political rhetoric and posturing was on Thursday condemned by Sonke Gender Justice.

The organsiation in a statement slammed Black First Land First's (BLF) "multiple threats and use of violence", which included calls for racialised murder, threats against the Independent Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC), and the assault of a woman advocate at the High Court in Johannesburg.

"[Last] Wednesday, members of the BLF political party staged a protest outside the Johannesburg High Court. According to the Johannesburg Bar Council, a group of BLF supporters followed a female advocate into the court building after she had an argument with a court security guard about the protest. They cornered her and punched her repeatedly in the face. They noted that 'white blood would be spilt'," Sonke said.

"The BLF leadership subsequently claimed responsibility for the assault, noting its support for the incident which was described as a defence against racism. They were unable to furnish details of the incident.

"In a country with alarmingly high rates of interpersonal violence and levels of sexual and domestic violence that are among the highest of any country in the world, public officials and political leaders must convey through their words and actions that violence is unacceptable."

The organisation condemned the attack as well as racial incitement, particularly against the background of 16 Days of Activism and the threat posed to the legal profession, it said.

Concern over threats by EFF

BLF leader Andile Mngxitama in Potchefstroom at the weekend reportedly urged an audience to kill five white people for every one black person that dies because of taxi violence, which he said would have been incited by Johann Rupert's comments at the Chairman's Conversation.

"Media reports indicate that [on Wednesday] BLF ratcheted up the rhetoric yet again and threatened 'armed struggle' if the Independent Electoral Commission deregisters the party because of its incitements to violence and its use of hate speech," it said.

"To date the IEC has not acted on section 16(1)(c) of the Electoral Commission Act prohibition of political party incitement of violence or discrimination and has not yet prohibited the BLF from participating in campaigning for the 2019 elections."

Sonke also expressed its growing concern about other incidents such as "reported calls and threats of violence by Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) MP Julius Malema against Minister Pravin Gordhan at the Zondo commission, threats and intimidation of the media by the EFF, and the use of actual violence within Parliament".

"[Our] complaints to the parliamentary ethics commission about threats of violence by Malema, Corne Mulder and Collen Maine during the 2017 local government elections have still not led to any action," it noted.

"Our political institutions - including the IEC and the parliamentary ethics committee - must...act on their mandates to sanction the use of violence by political parties and their leadership."

Source: News24

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