The Economic Freedom Fighters has also called for a debate in Parliament on criminalising racism.

CAPE TOWN – The African National Congress (ANC) in Parliament says the time has come for new legislation to make racist comments a criminal offence.

Recent remarks made by KwaZulu-Natal real estate agent Penny Sparrow and well-known economist Chris Hart on social media have reignited debate about race relations in South Africa.

Sparrow raised the ire of social media commentators when she referred to black people as monkeys, while Hart tweeted that years after Apartheid ended, blacks feel entitled and hate minorities.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has opened a case of Crimen Injuria against Sparrow, who has become a household name almost overnight, after she used Facebook to rant about black people who had flocked to beaches on New Years Day.

Crimen Injuria, which is the act of unlawfully, intentionally and seriously impairing the dignity of another, is a common law offence.

Moreover, the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act prevents hate speech.

But the ANC's spokesperson in Parliament, Moloto Mothapo, says existing laws are not enough to dissuade racists.

In the context of our painful past, racial bigotry and apartheid must be considered serious human rights violations that must be punishable by imprisonment. Elsewhere, glorification of Nazism and denial of Holocaust is a crime and perpetrators are tried and sentenced to a prison term.

At the same time, the Economic Freedom Fighters has called for a debate in Parliament on criminalising racism.