Opinion

Only parliamentarians are entitled to ‘freedom of speech’

According to the Constitution, only parliamentarians have ‘freedom of speech’ and this is limited to inside parliament so be careful what you rant about on social media or face the wrath of the law.

We have already seen the likes of Penny Sparrow and Vicky Momberg dragged over the coals and this week former Bosasa COO Angelo Agrizzi made a R200,000 out-of-court settlement after admitting he was racist.

South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) is now looking to charge Lindsay Maasdorp, Roth and Jarred Watson for hate speech.

Section 12 of the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act states that no person may spread any information or publish or display an advert which may be deemed to be discriminatory against any person.

The Act is apparently designed to ensure that only bona fide information of any nature is shared on public forums.

According to social media law had at Shepstone & Wylie, Verlie Oosthuizen, journalists are allowed to report on such matters and are accountable to the Press Council or the publication editor or in terms of journalistic ethics.

Social media users however have no journalistic training and are not protected by that statute and while they will be allowed to present their side of the story in mitigation, they should be aware of their limits on social media.

People are only entitled to ‘freedom of expression’ and this does not extend to matters regarding propaganda for war, incitement of imminent violence, or advocacy of hatred based on race, ethnicity, gender or religion, and constitutes incitement to cause harm.