As I celebrated the emphatic victory of the Blue Bulls over the Chiefs on Saturday, a bad taste was left in my mouth when I saw an old South African flag waving in the stadium. That flag is right up there with the use of the word “kaffir” as far as I’m concerned. If you wave that flag in front of me that’s what you are calling me. Having said that, I also know that not everyone who was there was glad that happened.

Did I enjoy the victory still? Yes. Did I celebrate? Yes. Was I proud of a South African team? Yes. But that does not take away from the fact that the flag dampened the mood over the occasion. In one second, it took us to the past. It has no future in the new South Africa.

The only place that flag must be in is a museum. I know that it still flies over the Castle of Good Hope in Cape Town, that is understandable, it is history. We cannot pretend that flag never existed, but we cannot hide the waving of the flag behind freedom of expression. Like any freedom we enjoy, freedom of expression has limits. A freedom with no limits leads to anarchy.

Chapter 2, section 16 of our Bill of Rights says the following about freedom of expression:

1. Everyone has the right to freedom of expression, which includes —
1. freedom of the press and other media;
2. freedom to receive or impart information or ideas;
3. freedom of artistic creativity; and
4. academic freedom and freedom of scientific research.

2. The right in subsection (1) does not extend to —
1. propaganda for war;
2. incitement of imminent violence; or
3. advocacy of hatred that is based on race, ethnicity, gender or religion, and that constitutes incitement to cause harm.

That flag will incite violence in the right place and at the right time. It also advocates hatred based on race and ethnicity. Banning that flag does not only protect those who are subjected to what it advocates, but those who advocate the hate it symbolises too. Imagine what would happen to that guy if he were to wave that flag in a Kaiser Chiefs vs Orlando Pirates match. I am all for freedom of expression, but it can’t go unchecked. It must have limits.

I believed then just as I do now that the people who were around the flag carrier should have removed it from whoever was waving it by force. Remaining silent and doing nothing about the flag might be viewed as an endorsement of what it represents even if those who were around the flag carrier were repulsed by the man’s actions. In the words of Martin Luther King Junior: “In order for evil to triumph, good people do nothing.” We all know what it stands for. It stands for the dehumanising of people of colour, racism, oppression, torture and everything that was wrong and immoral about the previous regime.

We could make the mistake of reacting out of emotion and claim that all white rugby supporters are racist and therefore supported the flag waver. The truth is we know better than that.

If the Germans can ban the waving of the Nazi flag I don’t understand why we can’t do the same.

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Khaya Dlanga

Khaya Dlanga

Khaya Dlanga* By day he perpetuates the evils of capitalism by making consumers feel insecure (he makes ads). For this he has been rewarded with numerous Loerie awards, Cannes Gold, several Eagle awards...

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