15/05/2018 07:43 SAST | Updated 15/05/2018 07:43 SAST

Kallie Kriel: 'Apartheid Was Not A Crime Against Humanity'

The Afriforum CEO maintains only 700 people were killed by the apartheid security police.

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AfriForum CEO Kallie Kriel. January 31, 2017 in Johannesburg.

Apartheid was not a crime against humanity, according to Afriforum CEO Kallie Kriel. The leader of the Afrikaner lobby group sparked outrage on Monday when, in a radio interview, he said, "I don't think apartheid was a crime against humanity..."

This was during a debate on Talk Radio 702's The Eusebius McKaiser Show, with Wits University vice-chancellor Adam Habib and North-West University associate law professor Elmien du Plessis.

Later, in an interview with New24, Kriel reportedly said that Afriforum did not condone apartheid, but the organisation merely did not think it was as serious as, say, the Holocaust.

He was also adamant that only 700 people were killed by the apartheid security police.

"We do not beat around the bush about that. What I said to Eusebius is that a crime against humanity is the gassing of 6-million Jews in gas chambers. In my view, you cannot equate that to the 700 people that were killed by the security police during apartheid.

"It was wrong to infringe on the rights of the people... [but this] cannot be equated to (Adolf) Hitler or communism. That equation cannot be made. You cannot equate crimes against humanity with apartheid.

"There was not a mass killing of people," said Kriel.

Apartheid was declared a crime against humanity by the U.N., and the Rome Statute of 2002 defines apartheid as "inhumane acts of a character similar to other crimes against humanity".

Kriel and his fellow Afriforum leader Ernst Roets recently went to the U.S. to engage with leaders there about the group's views on farm murders.

Many people took to Twitter to condemn Kriel's opinion.