Hate pastor Oscar Bougardt has been defying the courts since 2014 (Photo: Facebook)
Oscar Bougardt, the Cape Town pastor convicted of LGBTIQ+ hate speech more than five years ago, avoids prison again after receiving another suspended sentence.
In a letter on Monday, the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) revealed that Bougardt finally appeared in the Western Cape Division of the Equality Court in August on a charge of contempt of court for defiantly continuing to attack the LGBTIQ+ community.
Suspended Sentence for Repeat Offender
The court found that the hate preacher was indeed guilty of contempt and sentenced him to nine months in prison. This, however, was suspended for five years as long as he does not violate the court order again.
In an order dated 21 August, Justice Erasmus warned Bougardt that he would be jailed should he “directly or indirectly publish, post, disseminate, comment on or share, on any social media platform, digital forum or interactive website (including but not limited to Facebook, Twitter (X), TikTok or YouTube) any statements concerning sexual orientation or any other prohibited grounds defined as such in the definition of ‘prohibited grounds’ under section 1(1) (a) and (b) of the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act 4 of 2000.”
A History of Hate Speech
This is not the first time Bougardt has faced legal consequences for his hate speech. In May 2018, he was given a 30-day jail sentence, suspended for five years, after he was found guilty in the Western Cape High Court of contravening an initial 2014 court order to stop his anti-LGBTIQ+ hate speech.
This followed years of abuse on social media and in the press against LGBTIQ+ people, including calling for their execution and imprisonment in South Africa and stating that they are paedophiles targeting young children.
Despite the 2014 court order and 2018 suspended sentence, Bougard continued to make anti-LGBTIQ+ comments.
An online petition saw more than 4,672 people demand that he be jailed for flouting the court orders. MambaOnline was among those to file formal complaints with the SAHRC and in October 2019, he was served with contempt of court papers.
This also did not deter him and in November last year, he appeared on a kykNET talk show where he stated that “homosexuality is by choice” similar to the choice a gangster makes to be a criminal. Bougardt also aired the harmful false narrative that LGBTIQ+ people are a danger to children, stating, “One thing I can assure you, they prey on our children”.
Concerns Over Court’s Decision
While the latest court decision vindicates assertions by MambaOnline and other complainants that Bougard was in contempt of court, it is frustrating that he has once again avoided jail despite twice violating successive court orders.
Coenraad Kukkuk, an attorney with extensive knowledge of LGBTIQ+ rights, said the decision “shows that the SAHRC is a watchdog with no real teeth,” citing the Jon Qwelane hate speech saga as another example which took more than a decade to resolve.
“This matter is also now nearing a decade and there is no guarantee that Bougardt will stop since he gets away with it every time. A serious review of the speed and effectiveness of the SAHRC should be undertaken, or the Constitution itself is at risk of being seen as not worth much more than the paper it is written on,” Kukkuk asserted.