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SA leads the way in tackling hate crimes

When compared to the rest of the continent, South Africa is leading the way in trying to deal with issues of hate crimes.

When compared to the rest of the continent, South Africa is leading the way in trying to deal with issues of hate crimes. Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency/ANA Archives

On Thursday, the Hate Crimes Working Group (HCWG) released the first hate crimes report in South Africa.

The report looked at 945 cases, the most in-depth report on the topic to date.

Research professor of psychology at Unisa and leader of the research team under HCWG, Juan Nel, said while South Africa had issues it was doing better than other African countries when it comes to hate crimes.

“I do think we are leading the way We have a draft hate crime bill and I don’t think that exists anywhere on the continent. Indeed, I don't think there are monitoring systems in other countries, as to get a sense of victimisations.”

He said many South Africans were tolerant of intolerance and that was something that needed to be addressed.

“There are arguments around fights for resources and that they are responsible for crime and all kinds of other aspects, which some people might not agree with. The point is South Africa is way too tolerant of intolerance.”

Some of the findings in the report said 65% of the cases were perpetrated against individual victims and 35% were cases of hate incidents including hate speech, intentional unfair discrimination or hate crimes.

The ages of victims ranged from infants to 81 years. “A further 2% of victims were older than 51 years. The majority of victims fell within the age ranges of 21 - 30 years (41%); and 31 - 40 years (35%); with 12% being aged 41-50 years. More than half of the victims (59%) were black/African.

"A further 15% were of Ethiopian (8%), Somali (6%) and Eritrean (0.8%) origins - deemed to be race groups distinct from persons from other African nations.

"In terms of hate crimes related to sexuality, 68% of victims were male; 32 were female, and two victims were male. Nearly two thirds (64%) of the reported crimes were committed against heterosexual victims, while 35% of cases involved crimes perpetrated against lesbian or gay victims and a further 1% against bisexual victims.”

Triangle Project manager Sharon Cox said she felt the report was significant as many stories of victims were not covered in the media.

“These kind of crimes are based on who you are, what you lose your life over and they affect people. Families lose brothers and sisters over it. We are glad when the media cover it, because so often cases just become case numbers and another judgment in the courts.”

She said for cases of hate crime to be a thing of the past, people’s mindsets would have to change.

“You have to think where is this starting and it’s starting from young. The policy and legislation is there, but it needs to be brought to schools and added to the curriculum,” she pointed out.

(c) 2018 IOL

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