Since its initial conceptualisation in 1919, the historic Durban Jewish Club has been not only the centre of Jewish communal life in Durban, but a frequently used public space for the broader society. The building itself, "surrounded by bush, rippling dunes of corrugated white sand mingled with ochre earth", was officially opened on 4 May 1931. Since then, it has been host to generations of people, with a history that has witnessed wars and political unrest, conferences and public meetings and music and theatre performances.
“COSATU has got members here even on this campus; we can make sure that for that side it will be hell”
“COSATU is with you, we will do everything to make sure that whether its at Wits University, whether its at Orange Grove, anyone who does not support equality and dignity, who does not support the rights of other people must face the consequences even if it means that we will do something that may necessarily cause what is regarded as harm…”
Determining where the boundary lies between legitimate freedom of expression and prohibited ‘hate speech’ can never be an exact science. During the flurry of debate that took place around the controversial Prevention and Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill earlier this year, this was something that came through especially strongly. Err too much on one side, and victims of genuinely hurtful and insulting verbal abuse are left without a remedy; err too much on the other, and a fundamental pillar of democracy is undermined.
SAHRC on behalf of South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD), Emerge Victorious Against Hate Speech in the Equality Court
Today, the 29th June 2017, the Equality Court, sitting at the South Gauteng High Court, found in favour of the South African Human Rights Commission (the Commission or SAHRC) acting on behalf of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD), in a matter against Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) International Relations Spokesperson Bongani Masuku, as first respondent and COSATU as second respondent, for statements Masuku had made in February and March 2009, that have been found to be hate speech. The complaint was brought to the Commission in April 2009.
The SA Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) welcomes the judgment handed down in the Equality Court this morning confirming that COSATU International Relations Spokesperson Bongani Masuku was guilty of hate speech against the Jewish community. The case was brought by the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) after Masuku refused to comply with its ruling on a complaint lodged by the SAJBD in 2009.
Lord Joel Joffe, who passed away in London earlier this week at the age of 85, was a leading human rights lawyer. He was best known for the prominent role he played during the famous Rivonia Trial of 1963-4 as the legal defense team’s attorney. Amongst the leading anti-apartheid activists that he represented in the trial were Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu and Ahmed Kathrada. After the trial, Joffe settled in the UK, where he gained further renown for his human rights and philanthropic work.
Within hours of hearing about the devastating fires raging through Knysna , South Africans countrywide were provided with a range of options of how they could help those most effected. Within the Jewish community, the SAJBD, working closely with its Cape Town office and the Garden Route Jewish Association, took the lead in assessing the needs of the communities and providing support.