After five years in the making, a new report has exposed the devastating extent and nature of hate crimes throughout in South Africa, where the LGBTI community remains among the most vulnerable groups.
Launching the Hate & Bias Crimes Monitoring Form Project report at the Holocaust and Genocide Centre in Johannesburg, the Hate Crimes Working Group (HCWG) released its comprehensive research with an overview of the 945 hate-based cases.
The cases involved crimes and bias on the basis of a range of factors, including sexuality, race, religion, gender identity, occupation (e.g. sex work), disability, and others.
Sourced from NGOs and other groups as well as the media, the information was used in an effort to paint a picture of bigotry and prejudice in the country. The incidents documented ranged from hate speech to murder.
“Hate crimes hurt more than other crimes,” explained lead researcher Juan Nel. Because they are based on prejudice against a group, their reach extends beyond the individuals involved, he said. “We are all affected. Hate crimes tear at the very fabric of our country and undermine social cohesion.”
According to the report, 35% of cases were perpetrated against lesbian or gay victims, with 1% against bisexual victims, and 8% of victims identified as transgender.
Despite the research was not intending to document the prevalence of hate crimes in South Africa and was to some extent limited by the nature of the groups that agreed to take part in the study, it nevertheless offers “the most comprehensive and in-depth study of hate in South Africa,” explained Nel.
“We believe that the number of incidents far exceed the number documented in this study,” Nel added.
In response to the report’s findings, the HCWG believes that new and specific hate crime legislation is desperately needed in South Africa so that hate crime cases can be effectively recorded when they are reported to the police and prosecuted.
“Why is that that in 2018 it is up to civil society with its limited resources to do this sort of research?” asked Nel.
“We need a hate crime law to understand the problem in a country like ours, where we are sitting with massive inequality and massive divisions. Twenty-four years into democracy, we still don’t have a government that responds to this need.”
The HCWG has launched a petition calling on the South African authorities to stop stalling and push forward the country’s hate crimes bill. You can sign it here.
Last Updated on Feb 26, 2018