The Hate Crimes Working Group wishes to express its deep concern with the reports of violence, intimidation and hate-speech directed against various groups of citizens during the protests at Wits University this week.
Students on campus during the violence were quoted on social media saying “they strangled me, choke slammed me, threatened me. After they said queer bodies + feminists not welcome” with another student stating they were ushered out of buildings by protestors shouting “Whites must die! Jews must die!”.
The HCWG is sympathetic to many of the serious issues facing students in our country at this time, with many of its member organizations deeply involved in issues of access to resources, justice and empowerment. However, resorting to hateful language and discrimination against individuals or groups because of their race, religion, sexual orientation and gender identity is never acceptable and cannot be condoned.
Universities should be safe spaces for all that not only impart academic knowledge but teach the values of human rights, equality for all and tolerance. The current hateful rhetoric employed by a small part of the student protest movement is extremely damaging to South Africa’s social cohesion and only serves to create division and spread fear amongst South Africans.
For more information please call Alana Baranov on firstname.lastname@example.org.
The HCWG is a multi-sectoral network of civil society organizations set up to spearhead advocacy and reform initiatives pertaining to hate crimes in South Africa and the region. For more information visit www.hcwg.org.za