The South African civil rights organisation AfriForum’s Chief Executive for International Relations, Dr Ernst Roets, is in the USA to place the spotlight on the shocking recent South African court ruling declaring that the chant “Kill the Boer, kill the farmer” does not constitute hate speech. The word “Boer” is used interchangeably with “Afrikaner” to describe a cultural group sharing Western values living in South Africa, descended mainly from Dutch, French and German ancestry. The chant is sung on a regular basis at political rallies by political leaders, most prominently by Julius Malema, the so-called “Commander in Chief” of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), the third largest political party in South Africa. It is usually accompanied by political speeches in which he makes claims such as that he intends to “slit the throat of whiteness” and that “all whites are criminals and should be treated as such.” Malema has also encouraged his supporters to illegally occupy the property belonging to Afrikaner farmers and has stated on several occasions that he might in the future call on his supporters to slaughter white South Africans.
The EFF describes itself as a radical and revolutionary Marxist party, which aims to nationalise the means of production in South Africa. AfriForum took the EFF and its leader, Julius Malema, to court after the party chanted “Kill the Boer” at the trial of a murdered Afrikaner farm manager in 2021.
The chant “Kill the Boer” is a clear-cut example of hate speech as the legal test for hate speech in South Africa is, in simplified terms, whether the disseminated speech could reasonably be construed to demonstrate a clear intention to inflict harm upon people or groups on the basis of their identity. AfriForum recently announced that it is taking the matter on appeal.
During cross-examination in the same trial, Julius Malema testified under oath (and on camera) that his party is “radical and militant”, that a revolutionary is a “walking killing machine” and that he refused to pledge that he would not call for the “slaughter of white people in the future”. Therefore, as the largest NGO in the Southern Hemisphere with more than 306 000 donating members, AfriForum is continuing its campaign to inform the United States about hate speech and the incitement of violence toward farmers and Westerners.
“The world should know about the persecution and incitement of violence toward minorities in South Africa. Naturally, AfriForum is a strong supporter of freedom of speech, but we also believe that clear and obvious cases of hate speech should be punished. Free speech crosses over into the realm of hate speech when violence and harm is incited towards people on the grounds of their identity. This is undeniably the case when ‘Kill the Boer’ is chanted. A political system that turns its back on minorities when harm and violence is incited towards them by political leaders is not a free democracy, but an oppressive system. We cannot sit idly while South Africa goes down this path. We need to take a stand,” says Dr Roets.
Thousands of farmers have been murdered in farm attacks in South Africa. Most recently on 6 September, a farmer was murdered, and his wife tortured in South Africa’s Limpopo province.