South African Justice and Correctional Services Minister Michael Masutha says the government intends to introduce legislation aimed at preventing hate crimes and has called on the public to make inputs on the Prevention and Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill.

Addressing a media briefing here Monday, he said the Bill would help in dealing with recurring incidencts of racial, xenophobic and related intolerances. We are clear that this Bill itself may not end racism and other intolerances but will create an instrument that will hold those guilty of committing acts accountable before the law, he added.

A hate crime is committed if a person commits any recognized offence, that is a common law or statutory offence and the commission of that offence is motivated by unlawful bias, prejudice or intolerance.

The base offences most often committed against victims of hate crimes are offences relating to the physical and emotional integrity of the person, as well as offences against the property of the victims, for instance murder, attempted murder, rape, assault in all its various manifestations, robbery, housebreaking, malicious damage to property, crimen injuria and arson.

The prejudice, bias or intolerance towards the victim of the hate crime would be because of one or more of the following characteristics, or perceived characteristics, of the victim or the victim’s next of kin — race, gender, sex, ethnic or social origin, colour, sexual orientation, religion, belief, culture, language, birth, HIV status, nationality, gender identity, intersex, albinism and occupation or trade, Masutha said.

He added that although nationality, gender identity, HIV status, albinism, intersex and occupation or trade are not expressly mentioned in section 9(3) of the country’s Constitution, it has been argued that it should be included in the Bill because of the hate crimes which have been committed on the basis of these grounds.

The Bill has been published for public comment in the Government Gazzette and can be accessed on Interested parties and individuals may make inputs until Dec 1, 2016.

It is important that the final version of the bill must represent the collective wisdom of the nation and reflect our renewed commitment to uproot these social ills, Masutha said.

The Bill was drafted after a thorough study of other similar legislation internationally, such as those in Kenya, Canada and Australia.

Source: Nam News Network