Social media law consultant Emma Sadleir has spoken out on a series of racist Tweets on Twitter by a former Student Representative Council (SRC) member of the University of KwaZulu-Natal during the week.
Isaac Mangena, spokesperson at the SAHRC, said no complaints were made.
Mangena said the incidents should be addressed to prevent further intolerance in communities, Daily News reported.
He referred to Tweets from various cultural groups expressing crude messages containing derogatory racial terms.
The spokesperson believes it is the responsibility of all people to contribute to harmonious society rather than viewing it as the duty of authorities.
Pearl Sithole, professor at the faculty of community development at UKZN, was shocked to hear about the utterings on social media as unreported to the police.
She said: “This is beyond hate speech… a pinnacle of moral disgrace, given that such statements are taking place while a Struggle icon of Mandela’s stature is fighting for his life.”
Sadleir warned: “There are limits to the right to online freedom of expression.
“Defamation, invasion of privacy, contempt of court, hate speech, intellectual property, harassment [and related] comments posted on Facebook or Twitter are treated in exactly the same way as comments made in any other public forum, be it on television or radio, in a newspaper or in public discourse.”
He explained the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) holds the right to charge South African Twitter and Facebook subscribers with crimen injuria or hate speech, in a similar way spoken words are accountable to.
Alternatively, complaints can be submitted to the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) under the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act 4 of 2000.