14 March 2019

South Africa: Hate Speech Case a Message About Racism, Discrimination


An anti-Chinese hate speech case in the Equality Court this month shows up how little South Africans know of our own history and the long road ahead to understanding each other better.

That playground chant of ching chong cha you might have grown up thinking was innocuous - you got away thinking that because the Chinese let it slide, like they let slide dozens of other racial slurs.

But now an anti-Chinese hate speech case to be heard at the Equality Court later in March brought by the Chinese Association (TCA) is drawing a line in the sand. Erwin Pon, chairman of the association, says the tipping point to take legal action came after an incident that exploded on Facebook a year ago.

It followed the airing of a report on Carte Blanche on the inhumane treatment of donkeys slaughtered for their skins for use in traditional medicine in China. What started as outrage over animal cruelty quickly descended into a social media mob; what Pon says was "a barrage of hateful, hurtful insults" directed at all Chinese people. The comments found their way onto the Chinese Association's Facebook page where members post mostly in English.

Comments included: "They are...

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