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What can I do if my Human Rights are violated?

22 March 2021

Review spoke to Victor Mavhidula, Provincial Manager of the South African Human Rights Commission explains how and when you should report a human rights violation.

South Africa celebrated Human Rights Day on 21 March and with more than 30 basic human rights, there is always the chance that one might be violated.

Review spoke to Victor Mavhidula, Provincial Manager of the South African Human Rights Commission about what to do if you feel your human rights are being violated.

Mavhidula emphasised that one should always take any violation or threat serious and that the commission does not have a waiting period before investigating a matter.

“Even if it is just a threat, you must not wait to report it, the commission is always available to take in complaints as human right violations are extremely serious and the situation should be immediately intervened.”

Mavhidula explained that the commission works on a walk-in basis where a lawyer will be made available for consultation and advice on the matter at hand before one can lay an official complaint.

“Due to Covid-19 regulations we prefer our clients to engage us telephonically before making way to the office but we will never turn anyone back. If you do not have airtime to call us, you can simply leave a message and your contact details with any of our consultants and we will get back to you.”

According to Mavhidula, once a matter has been reporter, you shall then fill in forms and the legal process will follow.

He says it is important to remember that not all matters fall under the mandate of the commission and as such will be referred to the relevant authority.

“We do have instances where we are unable to take on cases because they do not fall under our jurisdiction but those will always be referred to the relevant people. Although some matters are resolved immediately, their turnover time for matters is six months.”

15 basic human rights you should know, according to the South African Human Rights Commission:

The right to equality – The right states that everyone is equal and must be treated equally. No one has the right to discriminate against you based on your race, gender, sex, marital status, ethnic or social origin, colour, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, conscience, belief, culture, language or birth among others.

Human dignity


Freedom and security – This means that no one can be put in prison without good reason; be detained without trial; be tortured in any way or be treated or punished in a cruel, inhuman or degrading way. Any arrested person has a right to a lawyer and cannot be forced to speak or to make a confession. Prisoners must be kept in proper living conditions and may have visits from family members.

Personal privacy – No one, not even the government, has the right to search your house or property or even have your possessions seized without following the correct legal channels. The government cannot infringe on the privacy of your communication –  this includes opening your mails or listening to your phone calls.
Freedom of Expression – South Africans have the freedom to say, write or print what they want, but this right must never violate anyone else’s right or break the law in any way.

Freedom of Association – Everyone has the right to associate with anyone they want to associate with.

Political Rights


Slavery, servitude and forced labour – You have a right to choose who you want to work for and the kind of work you do, and you must be paid for your work. No-one can be forced to work for someone else.


Housing – Everyone has the right to have access to adequate housing. The government cannot take your house away from you or evict you from your home if you own it.

Children – All children have the right to parental care, shelter, and food. Children may not be neglected or abused or forced to work.
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Source: Review Online

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Understanding PAIA

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.

27 Stiemens Street, Braamfontein

011 877 3600 (Switchboard)