Please note: The Act was eventually gazetted well after hours on 14 May 2024. It is not yet in force.

The Preventing & Combating of Hate Crimes & Hate Speech Bill has been signed into law – although it is not clear from the Presidency media statement announcing this whether the new legislation is immediately effective.

Its intention is ‘to address frequently occurring and sometimes violent conduct of persons who are motivated by clear and defined prejudices’ – among other things by making offences of hate crimes and hate speech and providing for the implementation of measures to prevent and combat them. This is according to a memorandum on the objects of the Bill’s ‘D’ version, which Parliament passed on 14 March 2024.

The Presidency is in the unfortunate habit of issuing media statements announcing when key Bills have been signed into law – without indicating whether they are in force. This has long been a Presidency practice. Ordinary South Africans are then obliged to wait for the new legislation to be gazetted, at which point this vitally important information becomes available (usually by way of the Act’s final section on commencement and/or transitional arrangements).

Regulations are likely to be necessary for the Preventing & Combating of Hate Crimes & Hate Speech to be operationalised. They will also be need to be released in draft form for public comment before being finalised. With that in mind, it seems unlikely that the Act has been commenced or that it will be in the foreseeable future.

Published by SA Legal Academy Policy Watch

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