AfriForum demanded today in letters to the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, the Premier of the Free State, as well as the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) that disciplinary action be taken against Nkosinjani Speelman, Executive Mayor of the Matjhabeng Municipality in Welkom, after he made derogatory racist comments aimed at a certain ethnic group of people in area. The civil rights organisation also laid a complaint of hate speech against him with the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC).
In a video recording of Speelman addressing members of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) he refers to residents of Bronville (a traditional brown community outside Welkom) as “Boesmans”. He also said the following: “In Bronville, jy weet mos party van die ‘Boesmans’ (you know some of the …), they take some chances; don’t hesitate. I talked to them yesterday, but when you close them (down), they get out and drink again.”
Speelman also says in the video that members of the SANDF must go to Bronville and show that they are soldiers. He added the soldiers must “skop and donner” if necessary and he would support them.
These statements by the mayor incites violence against a certain community based on their race and therefore amounts to hate speech.
According to Natasha Venter, Senior Campaign Officer at AfriForum, it is unconscionable for persons in positions of power to make statements such as these in this time of crisis that we are currently experiencing. “People are already unsure of their rights and the restrictions thereon during the lockdown and statements such as those made by Speelman further increases this confusion and fuels fear. Speelman’s comments are also questionable when one takes in consideration that President Cyril Ramaphosa emphasised that the SANDF should NOT use force during this lockdown as they are not deployed in a war zone. If government abuses its power during this time and targets certain communities, AfriForum will intervene,” says Venter.