In an annual report released by SAJBD in November, there were 53 anti‑Semitic incidents recorded compared to 160 incidents in the corresponding period in 2014. Reports included assault (one incident), verbal abuse (23 incidents), hate mail (eight incidents), and graffiti or vandalism (seven incidents). Many of the incidents were posts on social media sites.
On March 21, three Jewish teenagers wearing kippahs, aged 17 to 18, were walking out of a movie theater in Johannesburg and confronted by three individuals. According to reports, the perpetrators physically assaulted two of the three boys and made anti‑Semitic comments, including associating their religion with political tension in the Middle East. Police opened a criminal case of common assault and identified the perpetrators; however, no formal charges had been filed as of the end of the year.
In April a Durban resident was reportedly run off the road in her car, assaulted, and called “Rushdie’s bitch” for expressing her admiration for Salman Rushdie, an author condemned by some Muslim leaders. A case of gross bodily harm was opened at Mayville police station in KwaZulu‑Natal province. No arrests had been made as of year’s end.
Anti‑Semitic speech continued to be associated with Israeli‑Palestinian tensions in the Middle East, as some compared the country’s anti‑Apartheid movement to the Palestinian cause. Anonymous postings on social media contained threats against the Jewish community and specifically toward members of the SAJBD. There were also incidents of anti‑Semitic rhetoric following the visit of a Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine member in February.
According to media sources, on December 8, Port Elizabeth lawyer Maureen Jansen posted anti‑Semitic and anti‑Israeli statements on social media. One of the posts reportedly stated “Bloody Israelis should be exterminated along with all the ‘Jews’ everywhere who support Israel by action or silence.” The SAJBD lodged a complaint of hate speech with the SAHRC, but there were no updates as of the end of the year.
On February 10, the Secretary of the Student Representative Council and Progressive Youth Alliance at the Durban University of Technology called for the expulsion of Jewish students from the university, especially those who did not support the Palestinian cause. She also stated, “Israel is an apartheid, genocidal and terrorist state” and any student funded by Israel must immediately deregister. University officials condemned the demand.
On December 15, the Equality Court in Durban handed down a final judgement against Snowy Smith. According to the judgement, Smith was required to apologize to the Jewish community for widely disseminating anti‑Semitic emails. The court ruled the e‑mails “impinge adversely on the dignity of the Jewish people and constitute hate speech” and are not only offensive but “likely to cause harm.” Smith was also prohibited from disseminating any further hate speech. The SAJBD filed a case against Smith in 2013 for disseminating dozens of anti‑Semitic materials, including emails, CDs, and DVDs, to SAJBD members and other Jewish individuals and institutions between October 2010 and May 2012. The evidence presented against Smith included emails from him stating Zionist Jews planned the Second World War and “Illuminati Jews” are terrorists.
In March protestors outside the South African Zionist Federation conference shouted anti‑Jewish and anti‑Israeli remarks, including “you think this is Israel, we are going to kill you” and “you Jews do not belong in South Africa.” The protest was reportedly organized by the South African branch of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions. Police were present to provide security and order, but made no arrests. There was no physical violence reported.
Civil proceedings continued at the SAHRC against the Western Cape provincial secretary of the Congress of South African Trade Unions after he called for the killing of SAJBD members in retaliation for deaths of Palestinians in Gaza. The SAJBD also pursued a case with the SAHRC against a Congress of South African Students member for placing a pig’s head in the kosher section of a Woolworth’s grocery store in Cape Town in protest against the store’s marketing of Israeli produce.
In August the independent Commission for the Promotion and Protection of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities announced it would launch an “investigative study on the commercialization of religion and the abuse of people's belief systems” while the South African Council of Churches, which represents 37 national Christian bodies and is affiliated to the World Council of Churches, called for basic certification of pastors and protection of human rights for churchgoers. These announcements were in response to what the council described as objectionable practices at End Times Disciples Ministries after worshippers were reportedly instructed to eat and drink dangerous substances, including snakes and rodents, and the Church’s principal pastor reportedly jumped on top of members of the congregation. In July the pastor was arrested for animal cruelty and possession of protected snakes, and released on bail, but was in hiding as of December. Police continued to investigate the reported dismantling and burning of the pastor’s tents in August by youth from the Economic Freedom Fighter political party and a group of residents near the church. There were no reported arrests. In November members of the Church led a small, peaceful march against what they said was government interference in their practice.
The National Prosecuting Authority continued to investigate the October 2014 suspected arson at Cape Town’s Open Mosque and the subsequent incident where a vehicle rammed into its gated entrance. Preliminary findings indicated members of Cape Town’s Muslim community unhappy with the teaching at the Open Mosque may have been responsible.