Media-Statement

Hate Crimes Affect All South Africans – HCWG Press Statement

Press Release issued on Monday 13 April, 2015

Hate Crimes Affect All South Africans – Let’s Work Together to Foster Tolerance and Respect

The Hate Crimes Working Group (HCWG) is truly saddened by the current culture of hatred and violence in South Africa.  Intolerance has become endemic and all people in South Africa – civil, religious, community, and government – need to actively work together to bring understanding, tolerance and hope back to this Rainbow Nation.

The Hate Crimes Working Group (HCWG) is a multi-sectoral network of civil society organizations that cover a cross-section of vulnerable sectors and people at risk of prejudice-motivated attacks on them. The HCWG discourages a hierarchy of hate and works to address the current negative culture of impunity.  An attack on one group of people – or one sector of society – is an attack on all of us.

Feelings of hostility, frustration and betrayal are palpable in the country. A constant trail of broken promises, lack of moral leadership, apathy, a sense of entitlement, the legacy of Apartheid and the lack of personal accountability have created a very angry and volatile population. Being passive will not restore calm nor bring perspective – instead, there is an urgent need for a concerted effort and an active approach to restore the human dignity of all who live in South Africa.

In this county we too often shy away from difficult conversations and don’t talk about the important issues – and without awareness, education, and a safe space to express our fears and prejudices, we cannot hope to heal and move on from our divided past.  The whole country needs to unpack the issues of hate, intolerance, and related victimisation. It is not enough to have our Constitution – we need to internalise and live it.

Hate crimes have a devastating effect on their victims, communities, and on society as a whole. Yet there is currently no mechanism for reporting or recording hate crimes in South Africa in a way that distinguishes them from other crimes. Hate crimes often go unreported until they reach the intolerable scale that we are witnessing now.

The Hate Crimes Working Group urges all organisations – civil, religious or governmental – to speak out and act proactively to prevent further hate crimes and heal this country before it is too late. Visit the HCWG’s website www.hcwg.org.za to learn more about the hate crime monitoring project and other work the group does. South Africa is founded on a Constitution of freedom, rights and dignity – it is time that communities, government and offenders are held to account.

On Thursday 23 April, 2015, there will be a march starting at 13h00 at Peter Roos Park, Empire Road, which will end at Mary Fitzgerald Square, in which over 30 000 people are expected to march in Johannesburg in a spirit of unity and to show solidarity with foreign nationals.  The March has been organised by Representatives from social justice networks, trade unions, NGOs and the corporate, including Sonke Gender Justice and Cormsa who are members of the HCWG.

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For more information, please contact:

Iole Mattthews (HCWG) on 083 459 3302 / iolem@iafrica.com and Bishop Paul Verryn (Methodist Church) on 082 600 8892 / paulverryn@gmail.com or Roshan Dadoo (CoRMSA) on roshan@cormsa.org.za

Issued by the Hate Crimes Working, consisting of and endorsed by:

• Amnesty International, Southern African Team

• Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa (CoRMSA)

• Gay and Lesbian Network

• OUT

• Scalabrini Centre of Cape Town

• Sonke Gender Justice

• South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD)

• Sweat

• Triangle Project

• The Women’s Legal Centre