PARI has issued and endorsed press statements in support of SERI SA and SAITF in light of hate speech, cyberbullying and incitement of violence by Councillor Nkululeko Mbundu, party representative of ActionSA and MMC for Economic Development in the City of Johannesburg.
Statement in Support of SAITF and SERI SA against Hate Speech and Threats
Date: 2 August 2022
We as civic organisations here undersigned, condemn the hate speech and cyberbullying, in the form of doxing, by Councillor Nkululeko Mbundu, party representative for Action SA and MMC for Economic Development in the City of Johannesburg, directed at members of the South African Informal Traders Forum (SAITF) and staff of their legal representative, the Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa (SERI) on 28 July 2022.
Not only is doxing illegal in terms of the POPI Act, it is a criminal offence to endanger the lives of others. Councillor Mbundu’s attitude towards informal traders is a violation of the Constitution for his xenophobic remarks and is in moral conflict with the President’s State of the National Address 2022 to support informal traders.
Abuse of power by an elected official and member of the Johannesburg Mayoral Committee is particularly concerning in light of the State Capture report which seeks to correct the behaviour of government officials. It is important to mention that xenophobic actions by ActionSA chairperson and former Mayor of Johannesburg Herman Mashaba during his term in office, demonstrate a pattern of unconstitutional behaviour from both ActionSA and the City of Johannesburg.
This behaviour must immediately be addressed, to the extent that the Councillor, ActionSA and the City of Johannesburg must truly understand the dangerous effect of these actions and must show true remorse. The disregard for any and all human life must be curtailed.
Hate speech that amounts to violence in the form of xenophobia, racism and classism cannot and should not be accommodated nor tolerated in any manner.
We stand in solidarity with SAITF and SERI!
Signed (in alphabetical order):
Centre for Applied Legal Studies
Centre for Environmental Rights
Development Action Group
Equal Education Law Centre
Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies
Land and Accountability Research Centre
Lawyers for Human Rights
Legal Resources Centre
Public Affairs Research Institute
Sex Workers Education and Advocacy Task Force
Women’s Legal Centre
Released by the Public Affairs Research Institute (PARI)
Johannesburg, 2 August 2022
We, the Public Affairs Research Institute (PARI), are gravely concerned by the threats of violence that have been targeted at the staff and clients of the Socio-Economic Rights Institute (SERI). We condemn these threats and stand in solidarity with SERI and other organisations that work to uphold the spirit of the Constitution in its vision for a more socially just, democratic, and free South Africa.
SERI have supported the South African Informal Traders Forum (SAITF) with a successful application to the Gauteng Local Division of the High Court to reverse the illegal eviction of information traders from the De Villiers trading precinct. Ignoring the legal merits of the case, Councillor Nkululeko Mbundu of ActionSA (MMC for Economic Development in the City of Johannesburg) criticised SERI and the Forum for this application on social media and accused the Forum of being a front for foreign nationals. Following his social media commentary in this regard, SERI staff and its client have received threats of violence from groups and individuals on social media and their photographs and contact details have been circulated.
We call on Councillor Mbundu, ActionSA and City of Johannesburg to condemn these threats of violence and to affirm their respect for court decisions. We call on our public representatives to speak in a manner which affirms the dignity of all, and which acknowledges the fragility of our social relations under the increasing weight of poverty, inequality, and declining state capacity.
Millions in South Africa are unemployed and face dire levels of poverty. Our focus, and that of government, should be on finding constructive ways to develop a more socially just country, and not on scapegoating already marginalised members of society.