EFF leader Julius Malema's statements around the death of former Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe amounted to hate speech, and will be reported to the Equality Court, the Human Rights Commission (HRC) said yesterday.

News24 reports that the commission said it would 'take action' against politicians who make statements that amount to hate speech. 'The HRC has on numerous occasions urged political leaders to recognise and take responsibility for the power they wield through their words,' the commission said in a statement.

'At the same time, the commission remains committed to promoting and protecting the right to freedom of expression. The right to free speech is protected as a basic human right, under section 16 of the Constitution. This right is, however, limited and hate speech is not protected under the right to freedom of expression. The commission is therefore deeply concerned by recent utterances attributed to Julius Malema. The commission is of the view that the social media utterances by Mr Malema around ... Mugabe's passing away, on a prima facie basis, amount to hate speech under section 10 of the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act. The HRC condemns these racially divisive utterances, as they go against the non-racialist values upon which SA's constitutional democracy is founded and will therefore refer the matter to the Equality Court.'

Following Mugabe's death on 6 September, Malema posted a slideshow of Mugabe quotes, hashtagged #Gushungo, after Mugabe's family totem. One of the slides read: 'The only white man you can trust is a dead white man.'

Full News24 report