In July authorities arrested twins Brandon-Lee and Tony-Lee Thulsie on charges of planning to attack U.S. and Jewish targets in South Africa. The individuals were charged under antiterrorism legislation and were in jail pending trial at the end of the year.
The SAJBD recorded 38 anti-Semitic incidents from January to November, in comparison to 55 from January to November 2015. The incidents included verbal threats and intimidation (10), verbal abuse (15), abusive communications – all mediums (8), and graffiti/offensive slogans (5). In November the messages “[Expletive] the Jews” and “Kill a Jew” were painted on buildings at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. Some media sources speculated the graffiti was linked to demands for the release of #FeesMustFall leader Mcebo Dlamini from prison where he was awaiting trial on several criminal charges; however, no one publicly took responsibility for the graffiti. In 2015 Dlamini made several anti-Semitic comments on the radio and through social media. The Democratic Alliance Student Organization at the University of Witwatersrand reportedly submitted evidence to the SAHRC and the South African Police Service for further investigation into anti-Semitic graffiti. The university condemned the act and stated it would hold perpetrators accountable for their actions. The university also stated it planned to meet with members of the South African Union of Jewish Students concerning the matter.
In January the media reported singer-songwriter Loyiso Matana Ka-Zikhali posted anti-Semitic comments on his Facebook page that included, “Indeed Zionist Jews are a cancer to the world,” and “The native agenda of the Jew is to control the currency and economy.” No legal action was taken against him.
In September on Eid al-Adha, vandals painted anti-Muslim messages on walls in various locations in the township of Eersterust in Tshwane which has a mosque and a sizable Muslim community. Signs included “No Muslims” and “[Expletive] Muslims.” The perpetrators were identified and no arrests were made.
In June the principal of King’s School, a Christian school in the Johannesburg suburb of Linbro Park, was accused of being “Islamophobic” for urging parents, in a letter, to “pray for Muslims to come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.” The Gauteng Department of Education strongly condemned the principal’s comments. The principal issued a public apology.
In June a guesthouse owner in KwaZulu Natal (KZN) province refused service to black patrons on the basis of his religion. According to media sources, the owner reportedly cited the Bible as his basis of belief and said blacks were servants, sub-human, and that the races should not mix. A few days later the owner confirmed his business was no longer operating commercially after the media publicized his statements. KZN Member of the Executive Council for Economic Development and Tourism Sihle Zikalala filed criminal charges against the owner for discrimination, hate speech, illegal trading, and tax evasion and began proceedings for the owner’s eviction from the lodge.
In April 3,000 of the 10,000 residents of Valhalla, near Pretoria, protested the future construction of a mosque. The media reported some protestors threatened to slaughter pigs on the construction site, while others said the future mosque would become a breeding ground for terrorists. Some protestors held signs that read “Paris Brussels Valhalla??? NO!” and “Geen ISIS in Valhalla (No ISIS in Valhalla).” In March 2013 the Tshwane city council donated the land to the Tshwane Islamic Trust to build the mosque in an effort to create social cohesion and promote diversity in the area. Tshwane Mayor Kgosientso Ramokgopa noted the city had previously donated land to two Christian groups for houses of worship and was in the process of finalizing three more donations. The city councilor at the time, who later became a member of the Mayoral Committee for Tshwane, Sakkie du Plooy, said Valhalla was a Christian Afrikaner community and if the mosque were built, residents would immediately leave as they wouldn’t be able to bear the noise from the mosque. He also expressed concern than Muslims would “expand” in the area.
FORSA reported some Christian wedding venues received threats of legal action for allegedly refusing to allow gay wedding ceremonies to be performed in their facilities. The owners reportedly did not object to the use of their facilities for receptions, but objected to gay weddings due to their Christian beliefs. FORSA expressed concern that draft legislation on hate speech would make it a criminal offense for Christian churches to speak out against homosexuality. The draft bill would criminalize the hate crimes and hate speech based on one’s race, gender, sex, pregnancy, marital status, ethnic or social origin, color, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, conscience, belief, culture, language, and birth and related intolerance.
In January the SAHRC found corporal punishment in the home unconstitutional and unlawful in response to a 2015 complaint from an atheist couple against the Joshua Generation Church for violation of human rights. The couple stated the Church’s promotion of spanking to correct children’s behavior violated children’s rights. The Church appealed to the SAHRC on substantive and procedural grounds and was awaiting the SAHRC’s ruling at year’s end. FORSA filed a complaint with the CRL against the SAHRC, citing the SAHRC’s findings and stating its recommendations violated religious freedom and rights. The atheist couple also lodged a complaint with the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) that the Church discriminated against women in its belief and practice that a husband is head of the household and men are heads of church governance. The matter was also under consideration with the CGE at year’s end. The CRL issued reports in favor of the Church in both cases.
Although the alleged perpetrators were identified by the end of the year, no formal charges were filed in response to a 2015 incident in which three Jewish teenagers wearing kippahs were allegedly physically assaulted. The perpetrators reportedly made anti-Semitic comments, including associating their religion with political tension in the Middle East.
No formal ruling was released as of year’s end regarding the 2015 case of Port Elizabeth lawyer Maureen Jansen, who posted anti-Semitic statements on social media. The SAJBD lodged a complaint of hate speech with the SAHRC, which referred the matter to the Equality Court.
According to the SAJBD, the SAHRC ordered the Western Cape provincial secretary of the Congress of South African Trade Unions to pay one month’s salary as a fine for calling for the 2014 killing of SAJBD members in retaliation for deaths of Palestinians in Gaza. Authorities made no arrests nor imposed penalties regarding the 2014 case of a Congress of South African Students member for placing a pig’s head in the kosher section of a Woolworth’s grocery store in
Cape Town in protest of the store’s marketing of Israeli produce.