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  • It may be time for the South African government to set up a register of habitual racists, high court judge Richard Brooks said in a judgment delivered this week.
  • "The purpose of this would be to enter the details of those who relentlessly treat the foundational values that underpin our constitution with disdain and who undermine the efforts in building a cohesive non-racial society."
  • Brooks was ruling on a crimen injuria appeal by a white woman who racially abused a black man.
  • For more stories go to the Business Insider South Africa homepage.


The South African government should consider setting up a register of racists, a high court judge has suggested, in part to keep South Africa's progressive agenda on track.

"In light of the seriousness of the racial attitudes harboured by some in our society, the time may have come for the government to consider establishing a 'register' of offenders of this type of conduct," said judge Richard Brooks in a judgment in a k-word matter heard in the high court in Grahamstown, delivered this week.

"The purpose of this would be to enter the details of those who relentlessly treat the foundational values that underpin our constitution with disdain and who undermine the efforts in building a cohesive non-racial society."

Brooks was ruling on the appeal against a crimen injuria conviction for 63-year-old financial planner Dianne Horwitz, from Port Elizabeth.

A magistrate's court had given the white Horwitz a three-year suspended sentence, for a R2,000 fine or four months in prison, after a 2017 altercation with a black handyman who works at the retirement village where she lives, and of which she is a trustee.

He was not named in the high court judgment.

Horwitz argued that the complainant was a single witness who had contradicted himself about the details of their argument, and that she had been wrongly convicted.

She denied calling the complainant the k-word.

But given the circumstances, such as testimony of people who had seen the later stages of the altercation, the original magistrate had correctly considered the probabilities, Brooks found.

Meanwhile, the judge said, Horwitz had displayed a glaring lack of contrition and had, for no apparent reason, never offered "a genuine apology to the complainant to demonstrate that her error was not actuated by malice, disrespect or racism."

It is that lack of remorse that seemingly had Brooks recommend a register for racist offenders.

"This may also serve as a constant reminder to anyone that, to refer to other people of a different race with disparaging and degrading descriptions is contempt to the progressive agenda this nation adopted in 1994 in its quest to build a non-racial society," he said.

The proposal is not an entirely new one. In 2016 an ANC MP proposed a similar racist register during a debate in Parliament.

(Compiled by Phillip de Wet)

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