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South African Court: Singing “Kill the Boer!” is Not Hate Speech

EFF supporters sing “Kill the Boer” outside Johannesburg court Thursday

A court in South Africa has ruled that singing „Kill the Boer! Kill the Farmer!“ is not Hate Speech. The civil rights organization AfriForum will appeal the case.

AfriForum had sued the radical Marxist “Economic Freedom Fighters” and their leader Julius Malema, who sing the so-called “Struggle Songs” to stoke racial hatred against white farmers.

The Equality Court in Johannesburg ruled on Thursday, Aug. 25, that singing “Kill the Boer!” is not Hate Speech, because it “deserves to be protected under the rubric of freedom of speech,” ruled Judge Edwin Molahlehi. EFF supporters sang the song outside the court to raise racial tensions.

 

Ernst Roets, Head of Policy and Action at AfriForum, says this ruling creates “a very dangerous precedent. The disturbing message sent with this judgment is that encouraging the gruesome murder of a certain group based on their identity is acceptable and carries no consequences.”

“Today’s ruling proved how the political order in South Africa is becoming radicalised, especially against minorities. A political order where the incitement and romanticization of violence against minorities is sanctioned by the judiciary is not a free, democratic order, but an oppressive order. This case once again confirms that AfriForum must now focus its attention on strengthening and intensifying our safety structures and security training,” said Roets.

In recent years, EFF activists had switched to singing “Kiss the Boer”, to avoid legal culpability. Now they are back to voicing their racial hatred outright.

In his book “Kill the Boer”, Roets shows how farm murders spike after rallies where “Kill the Boer” and other “Struggle Songs” calling for racial violence are sung. Roets will be visiting the United States in September to raise awareness of racial discrimination and violence in South Africa.

In July, AfriForum issued its report “The World Must Know: The continued Persecution of Minority Communities in South Africa since 2020”, which points out that “farm attacks and murders increase in the months following incidents of hate speech that received substantial coverage in the media. For example, in the month after former President Jacob Zuma sang “Shoot the Boer”, 16 farm attacks occurred in which six people were murdered. The result was that farm attacks in the month thereafter were 11% and farm murders 36% higher than the average for 2012.”

 

“After analyzing five incidents of high-profile hate speech directed at white farmers, AfriForum found an average increase in farm murders of 74,8% in the months following these incidents”, the report states.

“Farm murders have become a serious crisis in South Africa,” according to AfriForum, “of which the existence is downplayed by many in government, and that is denied by the President himself. AfriForum, on the other hand, argues that farm murders are a unique phenomenon that deserves a focused counterstrategy by the South African government – for several reasons.”

364 verified farm murders were committed between 2016 and 2020, AfriForum reports,  and 15% of farm murder victims were tortured. An average of 47% of known attackers during farm murders were arrested, but only 33% of the arrested perpetrators were convicted, Roets stated.

According to the most credible numbers provided by the South African Police Service (SAPS), there was an average of 680 farm attacks and 94 farm murders per year over a period of 21 years. This translates to 1.9 farm attacks per day and 1,8 farm murders per week.

“The unique levels of brutality inflicted upon the victims cannot be overstressed”, the report states. “Torturing typically includes excessive stabbing, strangling, severe beating, burning with fire, boiling water, hot irons or melted plastic, gouging out the eyes and raping. Unique methods of torture include dragging victims behind vehicles over dirt roads, torturing with electric drills, or forcing bleach or other poisonous liquids down the victims’ throats. In the financial year of 2016/17, victims were tortured in at least 13 (17,6%) of the 74 farm murders that occurred that year.”

At the 1998 Summit on Rural Safety, former President Nelson Mandela stated that “The government deplores the cold-blooded killings that have been taking place on the farms in the past few years. While killings on farms, like crime in general, have been a feature of South African life in general, the incidents of murder and assault in farming areas have increased dramatically in recent years.”

In 2007, however  the publication of statistics on farm attacks and farm murders was stopped despite a 25% increase in farm attacks in the last year in which statistics were published: according to SAPS data, there were 794 farm attacks in the financial year of 2006/07, up from 636 in 2005/06.

“According to this new policy, farm attacks and farm murders were, despite the sharp increase, officially no longer a priority. Since then, it has become common practice for senior leaders of the ruling ANC party to either deny the existence of farm attacks, to downplay the extend thereof or to justify these attacks by suggesting that farmers deserve it. …  The denial of the crisis of farm attacks culminated in President Cyril Ramaphosa proclaiming to the international media in 2018 that the crisis doesn’t even exist.”

 

 

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