The old South African flag used during Apartheid has been partially banned by the Equality Court.
Judge Phineas Mojapelo’s ruling may result in both sides claiming victory. More certain will be confused South Africans and the continuation of debate in future court cases.
THE CASE FOR & AGAINST THE OLD SOUTH AFRICAN FLAG
The application for the limitation of the use of the flag in public was made by the Nelson Mandela Foundation and the South African Human Rights Commission. Their argument was that it constitutes hate speech, unfair discrimination and harassment based on race.
Feelings and opinion doesn’t erase the strong validity to the argument that freedom of expression is a Constitutional right, a foundation of democracy that’s about more than a single case or topic. But it’s unlikely that anyone believes that Afriforum’s heart was in that argument of convenience made by its lawyer Mark Oppenheimer.
Despite the professional veneer of proceedings, and both sides shaking hands after the judgement, the mood of the case, whether fair or unfair, was inescapably reminiscent of the early Nineties when National Party loyalists fought against change for the preservation of their privilege. Afriforum will not escape that negativity.
WHAT DOES THE OLD FLAG JUDGEMENT MEAN?
The old flag was labelled as a crime against humanity but the judgement doesn’t treat it as clearly.
It prohibits it usage but doesn’t ban it. It says there could be repercussions to displaying it but implies that it’s a civil rather than police matter.
Essentially, don’t carry the flag at the next Afriforum march. That would be considered gratituitous and hate speech.
But when does hate speech become freedom of speech? Is that safety zone a badge on your shirt pocket? Is it a boer displaying it over his fireplace whilst hiring a black maid to clean weekly?
You can comment on my Facebook post.
Personal note: South Africa, new or old, doesn’t offer enough for us to be proud and nationalistic. Apartheid was wrong. But so is life under the ANC and DA where corruption rules us and our future. I’ve no desire to wave or sing. The concept of a flag or anthem isn’t useful beyond being a social media thumbnail representing where we live on the map. The removal of flags altogether would be more honest representation of how far we’ve travelled as South Africans. But in our country, where logic is absent, and hate is as popular as corruption, it makes no sense to hold debate between two pieces of cloth that cannot dress us well. No flag would be best but that’s not going to happen. Thus, let’s at least halve our pain and have one flag only. Those who choose to display the old flag are antagonistic fools.
Update: Afriforum’s Ernst Roets posted the old flag on his twitter after the judgement. You can view that, and comment, on Facebook.