Dept. Education admits knowing nothing about minority religions
SAPRA response to Dept. Education Legal Services and the MEC Creecy – 14 May 2013
MEC for Education Gauteng Province Barbara Creecy
Re: MEC CREECY UTTERS HATE SPEECH AGAINST RELIGIOUS MINORITIES
0. This Alliance welcomes your invitation to engage further with the Department of Education on this matter (and other related matters currently pending investigation by this Alliance).
SAPRA will not withdraw its formal complaints of hate speech against both Gauteng and KZN Departments of Education, as said hate speech has been widely published, but never apologized for.
SOURCES OF PUBLICATION*
The Sowetan- ‘Schools tackle Satanism’ 19/03/2013
1. Your response dated 9 March 2013 clarifies that confirmed public accusations of “harmful religious practices‟ against the Occult and Satanism were made by you, without your Department actually possessing any accurate information on or knowledge of said minority religions.
2. SAPRA would argue that said harmful accusations against Occultists and Satanists were supported by nothing more than a.) incorrect media speculation and sensationalism regarding several high profile cases of violence involving pupils at several public schools, cases which have subsequently proven not to have involved any actual Satanists or Satanic religious practices, and b.) that said accusations were motivated by prejudicial and unproven allegations of harmful practices, supported by religious leaders with whom your Department has signed a memorandum of understanding, to openly discriminate against learners who exhibit signs of involvement or interest in Satanism or other Occult belief systems.
See Addendum A. entitled “Satanism” as a media creation: why the Department of Education‟s “anti-harmful” strategy is unfounded.
3. Gauteng Department of Education spokesperson, Charles Phahlane, has publicly denied that there is any evidence of a growing problem of Satanism or Occultism in South African schools. This Alliance agrees with this statement.
4. Allegations of harmful practices made publicly against alternative minority religions, impugn the reputation and dignity of members of these belief systems and engender public distrust against such faiths and minority religious groups and individuals.
5. It should be noted that Satanism and Occultism are valid and internationally recognized belief systems that are protected under the South African constitutional guarantee of freedom of belief and religion. Any learner in any school in South Africa may legally choose to investigate or embrace said belief systems.
6. Several public schools in this country currently openly discriminate against the Occult (including Satanism, Witchcraft and other Occult belief systems), by obligating both pupils and parents to sign Christian codes of conduct that specifically prohibit any pupil from engaging in the belief or practice of said belief systems. These illegal codes of conduct and enforced discriminatory obligations contravene the Department of Education’s policy on religion and education, and the Bill of Rights with respect to the right of any South African to voluntarily choose and practice their own religion.
See Addendum B. Kanonkop Code of Conduct
7. Statements of prejudice against said minority religions, when uttered by the MEC or any other official of the Department of Education, may reasonably be viewed as tacit Departmental approval of an unconstitutional deviation of accepted policy on religion and education, especially when the Department of Education has already failed to take effective remedial action to end incidences of illegal and unconstitutional written obligations issued by school governing bodies to pupils, to discriminate against religious minorities, or when representatives of the Department of Education fail to assume accountability for the utterance of provable hate speech against said minorities.
8. The most recent Satanic Panic engendered through the media by religious leaders and supported by officials of the Department of Education (Gauteng, Kwazulu-Natal and the Western Cape), the Department of Women, Children and Persons with Disabilities, and King Goodwill Zwelinthini himself, has already resulted in incidents of unfair discrimination against pupils who are not Satanists, but who have been falsely accused by pupils and educators of being Satanists and expelled or suspended from their schools. Accusations of religious affiliation and allegations of dangerous criminal behaviour do not constitute evidence-based proof of either religious identity or complicity in the execution of criminal activity.
See Addendum C. Katelyn Ramiah victimized by Westcliff Secondary School
9. Given the evidence before it, this Alliance would argue that institutional bias and prejudice against the Occult and Satanism has been well established as historical precedent within the public school system and the Department of Education, despite the existence of the National Policy on Religion and Education, the Equality Act and the Bill of Rights. This institutional bias must urgently be addressed and corrected at every education level within every public and model C school in every Province, by both educators and members of school governing bodies.
10. As a minority faith-based organization, SAPRA would be happy to receive a copy of your Department’s “memorandum of understanding” with other faith-based organizations in order to review your Department’s proposed “anti-harmful religious strategy” with regards Occultism and Satanism. This Alliance would in return, be willing to contribute accurate and vetted information on said minority religions, including Satanism, Witchcraft, Paganism and other Occult belief systems currently existing in South Africa, in order to assist your Department in preventing any further public or private hate speech or scapegoating in our country’s schools against members of alternative minority faiths. The provision of accurate and non-prejudicial information could be facilitated through Life Orientation classes with a focus on the constitutional right to belief and religion, and the prevention of scapegoating and discrimination against members of alternative minority faiths.