DA municipal speaker's 'monkey jibe' reported as 'hate speech' to SAHRC

Cederberg municipality speaker John Hayes.
Cederberg municipality speaker John Hayes.
Image: John Hayes/Facebook

ActionSA has lodged a complaint of hate speech with the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) against a DA municipal speaker over a social media post that associated EFF members with monkeys during the national shutdown. 

The EFF said it would do the same and called on Cederberg municipality speaker John Hayes to immediately step down over the “dehumanising and degrading” post — subsequently deleted — depicting monkeys removing the hubcap of a car wheel. 

The caption mentioned the EFF and “looting”.

Hayes deleted the post and apologised. “It is impossible to post something that everyone will like. We are 1 [one] in our diversity and must respect each other through this,” he wrote in a post on Facebook. 

“If I offended you with a certain post ... Was it not because it was my intention, but because we look at something differently [sic]. What has one meaning to me may have another meaning to you.

“Hate speech remains hate speech, but sensitivity rips the humour and is part of our lives. Why do some always have to look for the negative in others or something?” 

ActionSA provincial chairperson Michelle Wasserman said on Thursday using words or images such as “baboon” and “monkey” to describe people in a demeaning way had been declared hate speech by the courts.

Hayes had a “special duty to uphold the integrity of the council” and the municipal code of conduct required councillors not to compromise the credibility or integrity of a municipality. 

The EFF in the province said the speaker must be held accountable for his “irresponsible and reckless behaviour” which had angered and provoked many people. 

The party said it would also open a criminal complaint against Hayes. 


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