Lamola condemns protest actions in Groblersdal

Thursday, February 1, 2024

The Department of Justice and Correctional Services has condemned protestors’ attempts to forcefully enter the Groblersdal Magistrate’s Court premises and their brandishing of the colonial era Vierkleur flag. 

The court was hearing a case against two men – Piet Groenewald and his son Stephen Greef – who allegedly assaulted one of their workers whom they accused of being drunk on duty.

Justice and Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola said: “We applaud the [SA Police Service] for swiftly arresting all the protesters that attempted to block or enter the Court forcefully. This has restored the dignity of the Court and sends a message that our courts cannot be a playground for lawlessness.”

The department described the display of the Vierkleur flag by the protestors as deeply troubling as “it evokes memories of a time when discrimination and inequality prevailed”.

The flag features three horizontal red, white and blue stripes with a vertical green stripe at the hoist.

“We have noted, with concern, images in the media of a group of protestors brandishing the Vierkleur flag. The Vierkleur is a flag that was used by the old Boer Republic of the Transvaal which existed in the 2nd half of the 19th century until the Boers defeat in the Anglo-Boer War.

“The Vierkleur flag, is a symbol that represents a bygone era of colonisation and aparthied. This flag holds historical significance, but it also carries connotations of a time when black people were denied their basic rights.

“In August 2019 the Equality Court…ruled that the display of the old apartheid flag constitutes hate speech in South Africa. The Court held that the Constitutional Court has time and again emphasised the importance of historical context when considering human dignity, especially the history of racialized inequality in South Africa,” the department said.

The matter is expected to be referred to the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC).

“By brandishing the Vierkleur flag, individuals are openly rejecting the core values of democracy, equality, and the Constitution. This act is reminiscent of the old apartheid flag and cannot be tolerated.

“The Ministry firmly denounces the waving of this flag and will take decisive measures to ensure that the [SAHRC] thoroughly examines this matter,” the department concluded. –