Western Cape Premier Helen Zille

The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) has begun its own probe into Premier Helen Zille’s controversial “pro-colonialism” tweets after receiving a number of complaints from around the country.

The commission said her tweets might have been in violation of the right to human dignity.

SAHRC acting provincial manager Tammy Carter said the commission would notify Zille of the fresh probe next week, reports the Cape Argus.

“As the SAHRC, we have elected to deal with the matter as an own initiative complaint in terms of our complaints-handling procedures,” Carter said. 

“The complaint will not be investigated as hate speech, but as a potential violation of human dignity.”

Zille also landed herself at odds with her party when she fired off a series of tweets which were deemed to have been in praise of the colonial era.

In her defence, Zille wrote: “Many prominent people have repeatedly made the same point that I did, so why the mass hysteria?”

Notwithstanding the Premier’s defence and apology, the DA announced last week that it had officially charged Zille over the debacle. However, the party stopped short of elaborating what the exact charge or charges were.

Provincial SAHRC commissioner Andre Gaum said: “Nationally, we have received quite a number of complaints regarding this issue. The matter will be registered and investigated.”

Gaum said Zille would be afforded an opportunity to defend herself.

“After that, we will make a finding,” he said. “If it is found, for an example, that there was a violation of human dignity, this matter could go as far as the Equality Court.”

Neither the SAHRC nor the DA would commit to time frames.