The saga concerning the nations flag is still on as the the Equality Court, sitting at the South Gauteng High Court, will today, deliver its judgment on the possible banning of the old South African flag.
Issues concerning the old flag came up after the Nelson Mandela Foundation applied to the Equality Court to declare that unjustified display of the old flag constitutes hate speech and discrimination based on race – both ills are prohibited by the Equality Act.
Following the application at the court, a disagreement ensured between the Nelson Mandela Foundation and AfriForum, a lobby group concerning the display of the old flag. We recall that the old flag which represented the them apartheid regime of the nation was abolished on April 27, 1994.
Mark Oppenheimer, the legal counsel of AfriForum suggested to the court that symbols of hate should be allowed to be displayed in public spaces because they educate people about right and wrong. He argued that banning the flag would set a “dangerous precedent.”
However, Advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi, for the Nelson Mandela Foundation, countered that freedom of expression was not a founding value of the constitution. He said “When we interpret freedom of expression, we must do so through the lens of dignity and equality.”
Wim Trengrove, the Advocate for the Human Rights Commission took the argument further, saying public displays of the flag represented a nostalgia for the old South Africa. He said “Nobody is here to try and stop racists from displaying the flag in their private homes. The dispute here is against the public display of such a flag in the faces of black people to say to them ‘We wish for a South Africa that oppressed you’.
The case had earlier been heard in court in April this year for over two days.