MOST victims of hate crime in South Africa are black males, the Hate Crimes Working Group (HCWG) said, which found that more than half (59%) of victims were black Africans mostly foreigners. Nationality, sexual orientation and religion presented as the top reasons and factors behind hate crime incidents. The report found that 64% of reported hate crimes were committed against heterosexual victims, 35% against lesbian or gay victims and 1% committed against bisexual persons.
Most perpetrators were people known to the victim or people from the victims’ community, the report found. Members of police and public officials from various institutions formed part of the perpetrators. Alarmingly, the report said 66% of the incidents of hate crime were not reported to the police. Reasons for this included lack of trust in the SAPS due to previous negative experiences, fear of being arrested due to being undocumented and fear of retribution. The report released yesterday paints a dark picture of hate crimes in the country and lack of urgency in dealing with hate crimes. It bemoaned the lack of figures of hate crimes and said the absence of figures given the seriousness of hate crime and its impact on victims on its own is alarming. *Sam, a victim of hate crime said: “My scars remind me that I’m different and that I walk with a target on my back everyday.
I feel pain everyday but to many people I don’t exist, I’m just an inconvenience to society”. Sam and his brother, foreign nationals, were attacked and set alight in 2016, his brother later died of an infection in hospital. He said he was attacked one night while preparing to close his shop by men who demanded he gave them credit. When he refused he and his brother were attacked and doused with petrol. As an illegal immigrant he feared being arrested and did not report the attack. The HCWG said there was an urgent need for the hate Crimes Bill to be passed.
The group’s Yolanda Mitchell said: “Without legislation, the necessary resources to prevent hate crimes and to support victims of hate crimes are not going to be unlocked. This is a social issue and it does require concerted efforts from society at large but without legislation and resources, awareness creation and education, victims are not going to get the support they need.” The group yesterday launched a petition calling for the Hate Crimes Bill to be passed into law. The report recommends that there be monitoring and recording of hate crimes and the need for the development of guidelines for responding to hate crimes. .