The old South African flag is at the centre of a case being taken to the Equality Court by the NelsonMandela Foundation and AfriForum at the end of April, arguing whether or not a display of the flag constitutes hate speech.
Eusebius McKaiser hosted a debate between Sello Hatang, CEO of the Nelson Mandela Foundation, and Ernst Roets, AfriForum deputy CEO, about whether or not the old South African flag should be banned.
AfriForum agrees with us that this is one of those symbols that takes us back and continues to violate the sensibilities, particularly of those who believe it propagates hate speech, it propagates unfair discrimination, and all of us should distance ourselves from it.— Sello Hatang, CEO - Nelson Mandela Foundation
He highlights the Nelson Mandela Foundation biggest disagreement with AfriForum.
They should be helping us as South Africans to move away from the 1928 flag, which at the time of its passing, it came with a whole raft of other laws which said black people were inferior.— Sello Hatang, CEO - Nelson Mandela Foundation
AfriForum's Roets agrees with the broad sentiment expressed by Hatang, but has one rider.
The flag can be displayed with different intentions.— Ernst Roets, Deputy CEO - AfriForum
What are these possible 'different intentions' asks Eusebius?
Roets cites the example of those South Africans who fought against the Nazis during the Second World War under the old flag.
Then the context of using or displaying the flag is different, than simply saying I display the flag because I hate black people or want to oppress black people.— Ernst Roets, Deputy CEO - AfriForum
Roets says displaying something that is offensive is not a call to action, and so does not fall under hate speech.
I am an Afrikaner, I work at AfriForum, and I don't know a single person who owns and displays that flag.— Ernst Roets, Deputy CEO - AfriForum
But he also acknowledges that many white South Africans who do display the old flag might well have racist intentions, but says he can only speculate.
I'm sure you would find white people displaying the flag with racist intentions and maybe that might be the majority of cases. I don't know— Ernst Roets, Deputy CEO - AfriForum
Hatang argues that no matter the intention, displaying the flag is problematic, as the one who is receiving the message has to be considered.
To display it at a rugby game, it can be read as being hurtful.— Sello Hatang, CEO - Nelson Mandela Foundation
It will still feel like it is promoting hatred, he explains.
The impact needs to be considered, not just the intention.
Listen to the insightful debate below: