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Transforming Society

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Restoring Dignity

Erratum Media Statement: The National Investigative Hearing into the July 2021 Unrest especially in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal Province

25 November 2021

Attention:  Editors and Reporters

Last week Monday, 15 November 2021, the South African Human Rights Commission (“the Commission”), commenced its National Investigative Hearing into the July 2021 Unrest in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng Provinces. Throughout the week, the Hearing Panel heard testimony from survivors, various community members as well as industry players in commerce and private security. Following an application by the Evidence Leaders, the Panel granted a ruling for an inspection in loco in Pietermaritzburg, Phoenix and surrounding areas and such inspection took place on Friday, 19 November 2021.

The Hearing has received positive reception from all quarters of the country and from many stakeholders, especially the public.
Without detracting from the positive welcome the Hearing has garnered in light of the issues at the centre of the investigation, the Commission notes that some have raised concerns on social media and, in particular, there has been an opinion piece in the Independent Newspapers’ opinion column, “Jaundiced Eye”. This article is replete with misinformation and inaccuracies as well as derogatory statements against Commissioners conducting the investigative hearings. While the right to freedom of expression entitles everyone to their opinion and should be protected, the Commission is of the view that the parameters of fair comment have been exceeded in this opinion piece and that the opinion falls below the standard of good journalistic practice.

The subject matter of this hearing is a matter of national concern and implicates various rights such as the right to security, the right to be free from all forms of violence,  the right to not to have  one’s possessions seized and the right to life. Our Constitution is founded on the principle of accountability.  The Commission’s mandate is, among others, to monitor and assess the observance of human rights in the Republic. Ultimately it falls on the Commission in terms of the Constitution of the Republic to investigate and report on issues where human rights have been violated and to take steps to secure appropriate redress.

In conducting its work, the Commission has publicly called for submissions from all sectors of society and will continue to receive submissions beyond  Friday, 3 December 2021, when it is expected that the in person hearings will end. All parties and stakeholders will be afforded every opportunity to be heard in a fair and unbiased fashion and any insinuation to the contrary is without substance.

While expressing appreciation for those who have come forward and assisted it with evidence, the Commission continues to request persons wishing to make their submissions do so before the Hearing Panel either in person or by way of written submissions, rather than on social media or by way of commentary that seeks to bring the process and work of the Commission into question.

For the current week, the Commission had invited a number of state officials requesting that they kindly appear in person at the National Hearing. The Speaker of the National Assembly, Mrs Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, the National Commissioner of the SAPS, General Khehla Sitole and the Gauteng Provincial Commissioner of SAPS, General Mawela have already appeared and testified before the Hearing Panel on the first day of the week. The Premier of KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng will appear on Friday, 26 November 2021.

While the Commission appreciates the assistance of the above-mentioned state officials, it notes that there have been non-responses from a number of other state officials. Consequently, the Commission has issued subpoenas calling on them to appear before the Hearing Panel.   Organs of state, including state officials, are under a specific constitutional and statutory duty to cooperate with and assist the Commission in the carrying out of its Constitutional mandate, to ensure its independence and effectiveness.

On the other hand, the Hearing Panel has also decided to open the window yet again for submissions until this coming Friday, 26 November 2021 at 17H00 to give the opportunity especially to victims of the looting to come forward and provide submissions to the Commission.
Further announcements on the appearances of the witnesses will be made as soon as such can be confirmed.

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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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