State hatches plan to reduce hate crimes
As new research shows that race relations in South Africa are sound, the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development launched its national action plan to combat racism yesterday.
"We pretended that we are okay but now we realised we are not okay," said department director general Nonkululeko Sindane at the launch in Cape Town.
A public consultation will be held in coming months on the action plan, which aims to develop a comprehensive public policy against racial discrimination and other related human rights issues such as xenophobia and intolerance.
Organisations at the launch spoke of efforts to tackle social problems in South Africa.
Hate Crimes group chairman Sanja Bornman said new cases involving hate crimes came to light daily, but it was difficult to record exact numbers because this type of crime was not legislated.
"Victims often feel they are not being heard by the criminal justice system. The hate element is hardly heard in an open court."
She said black people were often the targets of hate crimes.
The group is assisting in drafting the combating and prevention of hate crimes bill, which is expected to go before parliament soon.
In response to racist comments made by Durban estate agent Penny Sparrow, Estate Agency Affairs Board CEO Bryan Chaplog called on people to complain to the board if they experienced prejudice or racism from estate agents.
"Ninety-two percent of estate agents are white. We are still working to see how we are going to bring transformation," said Chaplog.
The board had established an anti-racism committee of inquiry .
The Institute of Race Relations' latest report, which was released yesterday, found that despite widespread racial tensions in South Africa in the first two months of the year the majority of South Africans wanted to work together to build a better country.
"Despite tough economic conditions and the very real inequalities that still bedevil South Africa, race relations remain generally sound.
"Given our history, the progress we have made on race relations since 1994 could rightly be seen as one of South Africa's most impressive success stories," institute CE Frans Cronje said.
According to the report:
- 76.2% of South Africans feel race relations have stayed the same or improved since 1994;
- 85.4% of South Africans agree that different race groups need each other;
- 90.8% of South Africans would support their children being taught by someone of a different race.