Should the old apartheid flag stay or go? – Here’s what South Africans have to say


If there is one thing that could split the country, it is South Africa’s old orange, white and blue flag. The apartheid flag is now even disputed in court.

AfriForum on Wednesday appealed a 2019 ruling banning the display of the old South African flag in most circumstances, including in private, in the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein.

Judgment was reserved.

Apartheid flag hate speech case

This followed the Equality Court ruling declaring displays of the flag as hate speech in 2019, after a case brought by the Nelson Mandela Foundation and the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC).

Advocate Mark Oppenheimer, for AfriForum, said the flag could bear a certain meaning, but the context told you whether it amounted to hate speech and added it did not, in some instances, amount to it.

“Just because the flag has a particular dominant meaning, it doesn’t mean that the display of the flag endorsed it,” Oppenheimer said.

Apartheid nostalgia

Advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi, for the Nelson Mandela Foundation, argued the display of the old flag represented nostalgia for apartheid and added the contemporary meaning of the flag was a yearning for the return of apartheid.

Ngcukaitobi said the flag continued to represent white domination over black bodies. Nelson Mandela Foundation spokesperson Mandla Dakada said they were confident the judge will rule in favour of nation-building and healing.

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AfriForum’s Ernst van Zyl said they hoped for a successful outcome in the appeal application.

But the man in the street feels different.

How South Africans really feel

At the Union buildings, Katlego Madisha said he took offence to anything that represented apartheid.

“It brought about the oppression of black people, who were treated like endangered species.”

Madisha said the flag was a reminder of what the previous government did to the people and what they can do again.

Emmanuel Msiza said people cannot remove history from a country’s origin.

“When one person removes a piece of history, it creates a sense of animosity. And in that creation, we are trying to say forget the past.”

But Madisha disagreed.

“We can’t forget the past because it gave us the perception and direction to move forward. “To ban the flag will not change the impact it had on the people in that time.”

Nompumelelo Motshegoa said let bygones be bygones. “If they unban the flag, they would just be rubbing salt in past wounds,” she said.

What the flag represents

Motshegoa said the flag offended her because of what it represented. Pauline Malapane and Tshilidzi Nemathithi both agreed displaying the flag was wrong.

“It’s because of what it represents. We are now living in the new South Africa,” Malapane said.

Nemathithi said he was completely against unbanning the flag. Dewald Stevens said AfriForum was digging up dead cows again.

“Leave the old flag, it doesn’t mean anything anymore, nor does the current flag. We are doomed.”

Part of apartheid heritage

André Barnard said the flag was part of his heritage.

“They can do what they want to, I will keep the flag in my house.”

Meanwhile, Rina Liebenberg said if throwing away the flag would bring peace to the country, so be it.

“I feel that everything Afrikaans was being destroyed because the flag symbolised apartheid for some,” she said.

Liebenberg said even though South Africa was moving forward, it was dangerous to erase history.

Source: citizen