Denis Farrell / AP
A South African court limited the unpaid exhibition of the country's old apartheid flag and called the banner "a living symbol of white supremacy and black disenfranchisement and oppression".
The flag was South Africa's official standard from 1928 until the end of apartheid in 1994, when it was replaced by a six-colored flag whose Y-shape symbolizes unity. On Wednesday, the Equality Tribunal ruled that the old flag "is a symbol that perpetuates the era of racial segregation, racial oppression by apartheid and South Africa as an international pariah state that dehumanizes the black population."
The lawsuit was filed by the Nelson Mandela Foundation, which stated that showing the apartheid flag meant hate speech, unfair discrimination and harassment of black people.
"Judge Phineas Mojapelo of the South African Equality Tribunal has decided to restrict the use of the orange, white, and blue flags of the former white minority regime," reports Ofeibea Quist-Arcton of the NPR. "He said, however, that the move was not a complete ban because the use of the splitting flag associated with the apartheid years was protected by law in the public interest for artistic, academic, journalistic and other purposes."
The lawsuit was directed against a group called AfriForum, widely regarded as representing the views of a conservative white minority of Africans. In court, AfriForum officials claimed that South African anti-hate speech is applicable only to words and not to symbols. They also said displaying the flag under the Constitution is a protected term.
"In our opinion, it is not enough to call them hate speech," said AfriForum Politics and Action Director Ernst Roets. said after the court published its decision . "To be hate speech, it must be linked to a kind of call to action to do harm or something in that sense."
On Wednesday, the Nelson Mandela Foundation declared that the 1928 flag had become a global symbol of white supremacy and hatred "and is viewed by most South Africans as a source of trauma and terror."
The Foundation filed a lawsuit after the flag appeared in late 2017 in protests against deadly attacks on white farmers. These protests, called "Black Monday", were sponsored by the AfriForum.
Following the Mandela Foundation, the Equality Court ruled that the free presentation of the old flag not only "expresses a clear intention to be hurtful". and to promote hatred of the blacks.
Given the adoption of the flag by a pure white parliament and its six decades as a symbol of the apartheid era, the court said: "It is not surprising that even today it is seen by predominantly white people on the one hand and blacks on the other. "