Once again, free speech and religious freedom are under attack in South Africa. THIS is your opportunity to speak up for free speech – because no one should be punished for saying what they believe!
A Christian student at the University of Cape Town (UCT) was recently suspended from the UCT Student Representative Council (SRC) following a post on her personal Facebook page that “we are institutionalising and normalising sin! May God have mercy on us” on 28 June. (Although she did not expressly say this, her post was intended and interpreted as a comment on the recent ruling by the US Supreme Court, legalising same-sex marriage in all 50 States).
According to the SRC, the reason for Zizipho Pae’s suspension is the “homophobia” that she (the post) allegedly expressed towards the LGBTIQ community. They demanded an apology and retraction of the post. Zizi has however remained steadfast in her belief and resolute that her post in no way advocates violence or hatred.
Zizi’s Facebook post evoked a barrage of comments from fellow students and the public. In stark contrast to Zizi’s own post, many of these comments would constitute “hate speech”. In one incident, students broke into her SRC office, tore Bible scriptures from the walls and replaced it with threatening messages. Pictures were taken in provocative poses and posted on Facebook, along with a call for Zizi’s dismissal from the SRC. (Contrary to what happened to Zizi, no disciplinary steps were taken against the students involved in this incident).
A short interview between Zizi and Errol Naidoo, can be viewed here.
Advocate Nadene Badenhorst (who is also the Legal Counsel of FOR SA) met with Zizi on Monday and, as part of the legal team, will be assisting her in hopefully bringing the matter to an amicable resolve. In secular media yesterday, it was reported that a complaint against Zizi had been filed with the Human Rights Commission (HRC). Read it here. First priority however is to lift her suspension and ensure that no disciplinary steps are taken against her for exercising her right to freedom of speech and freedom of religion, conscience and belief – both of which are constitutional rights given to every South African, and which no one should ever be ‘punished’ for!
WHAT CAN YOU DO TO HELP?
Having discussed the matter, the leadership of FOR SA (Andrew Selley, Michael Cassidy and Moss Ntlha) is in agreement that this is a fierce attack on free speech and religious freedom. In the circumstances, we will be addressing a letter on behalf of the FOR SA leadership to the SRC and to UCT itself, appealing for an even-handed approach in respecting the constitutional rights of all students (including therefore Zizi and other students who share her religious beliefs).
FOR SA strongly encourages you to also make your own voice known in support of Zizi, and in support of religious freedom and free speech, by:
1. Writing to:
- The Vice-Chancellor of UCT – Dr Max Price at firstname.lastname@example.org
- The SRC President – Rahabina Mahapa at email@example.com
2. Signing a Petition:
- Click here to take you to the petition page.
This is an opportunity for Christians to make a difference – not only for this brave young lady, but for the many other Christian students at UCT and at other institutions who should never be harassed, punished or disqualified from leadership because of their faith.
This is an opportunity to stand up and be counted – for the sake of keeping our faith and speech free in South Africa!
Please follow us on Facebook @FreedomOfReligionSA, for regular updates on this and other matters concerning religious freedom. As a volunteer organisation, we would also appreciate any donations towards our work, including the work that we will be doing in relation to this particular matter. (To make a donation, please click here.)