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Transforming Society

Securing Rights

Restoring Dignity

Media Statement: SAHRC Mourns the Passing of Former Commissioner, Dr. Danny Titus

Attention: Editors and Reporters

Saturday, 19 September 2020

It is with great sadness and shock that the South African Human Rights Commission (the Commission or the SAHRC) has learnt about the untimely passing of a Former Commissioner of the SAHRC, Dr. Danny Titus.
Dr. Titus passed away on Friday, the 18th September 2020, at the age of 63, after being in a coma since undergoing eye surgery in July 2020.

Born in Worcester, in the Western Cape, Dr. Titus, graduated with a BA LLB in 1982 and was admitted as an Advocate of the Supreme Court in 1983. He had to work as a Public Prosecutor as a condition of his Department of Justice (DoJ) bursary and should have then gone to the Attorney-General’s office in Johannesburg, but was invited to study at the Rijksuniversiteit, Leiden, The Netherlands, where he gained a doctorate on the applicability of the international norms of human rights to the South African legal system, with specific reference to the South African judiciary.

Dr. Titus’ passion for human rights blossomed in the early 1990s, during South Africa‘s transition to a constitutional democracy, when he returned to South Africa. He undertook human rights work at the Law Commission before becoming the Executive Director of the Goldstone Institute (now the Human Rights Institute of South Africa).

Dr. Titus joined the South African Human Rights Commission in 2009, as a part-time Commissioner, and served in protecting, promoting and monitoring the attainment of human rights until the end of his seven year term in 2016.

Dr. Titus will be personally and professionally remembered for his great contribution to civil and political rights. During his tenure at the SAHRC, he championed the cause of civil and political rights (CPR), particularly human rights, law enforcement, and torture. In addition to advocating for the development of a CPR portfolio at the SAHRC, he also led the participation of the SAHRC in the review of South Africa’s report under the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in 2016.  

In 2012, Dr. Titus led and completed the investigation into the 2011 killing of Andries Tatane, an activist from Ficksburg in the Free State Province. The investigation led to the initiation of a fruitful relationship with the South African Police Services and improved training of police officers in managing and regulating gatherings to ensure more peaceful and non-violent protests.

Dr. Titus also led national hearings on access to basic services, land, and the constitutionality of indigenous groups in South Africa, particularly the Khoisan communities (Khoi, San, Nama, Griqua, Koranna) and he was appointed to the United Nations Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. He advocated for improved safety and security for farming communities. In 2014, he led a national hearing Investigative Hearing on the Safety and Security Challenges in Farming Communities and released the subsequent report on the hearings to Parliament in 2015.

Dr. Titus’ contribution to the betterment of South Africa, saw him being honoured in February 2020 as a recipient of the Freedom of the Town, during the bicentennial celebration of his birth town, Worcester.

He is survived by his wife, two daughters as well as former colleagues from the Commission who will forever remember him as an empathetic, personable, passionate advocate of human rights, particularly the rights of marginalised people. Beyond his work in human rights, Dr Titus is remembered as a historian, linguist and academic, having served as the Executive Director of Culture at the Afrikaans Language and Cultural Association, ATKV, up until May 2020.

– Ends –

Issued by the South African Human Rights Commission
Gushwell Brooks – Communications Co-ordinator Tel: 082 645 8573 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The South African Human Rights Commission.

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The Human Rights Commission is the national institution established to support constitutional democracy. It is committed to promote respect for, observance of and protection of human rights for everyone without fear or favour.

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