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By Commissioner Philile Ntuli:

30 April 2023

Having inherited systemic fragmentation, deep racial divides, massive socio-economic and service delivery inequalities – the local government sphere has faced great challenges in promoting human rights, addressing past backlogs and spatial distortions, and planning for a sustainable future, writes Philile Ntuli.

Across all locales of South African society, there is a general sense of discontent regarding service delivery in general, and the performance of municipal institutions specifically.

By Dr Eileen Carter

12 March 2023

Gender-based violence (GBV) is a growing concern in South Africa, and the rise of the internet and social media has only amplified the problem. During the state of the nation address in February this year, President Cyril Ramaphosa again called on individuals, institutions and leaders to end violence against women. Nevertheless, online spaces, which can be seen as empowering and liberating, are increasingly used to perpetuate harm against users and in particular women.

Online activity has opened new avenues for GBV, such as cyberstalking, cyberbullying and ha rassment.Deepfake technology that can seamlessly stitch women's faces onto a video or footage they never actually participated in. In fact, deepfake technology was initially developed in 2017 to transpose the faces of women actors into pornographic scenes without their consent. Since then, access to these tools has grown.

These forms of violence can severely affect the mental and emotional wellbeing of women and even put their safety at risk. Additionally, the anonymity provided by online spaces allows perpetrators to act with perceived impunity, making it difficult for victims to seek help and support.

16 February 2023

Written by Lillian Artz,  Veronica Filippeschi and Nokwanda Nzimande

The global female prison population has grown by a staggering 53% over the past decade. Yet little has been done to improve the system so that it supports those whom it incarcerates. South Africa is no different.

The little information we have about women in South African prisons speaks of intolerable overcrowding, unhygienic sleeping conditions, and minimal health and mental health care services, including ‘medical neglect’.
28 December 2022

By Fatima Chohan

As we all know, our country excels in some notorious global indices. The levels of femicide, domestic violence, violence and crime in general are some of the indices in which we have excelled. Government has been under pressure to act to eradicate such crime, and it has, in the best way that it knows how – by amending the law. This is no small matter – there are some laudable changes made to the existing law designed to further expand the ambit of criminalising gender-based violence (GBV), and sexual offences, especially against vulnerable groups, such as older persons in care facilities, young women at universities, children, and persons with disabilities.
24 Nov 2022

By Adv Bongani Majola

Research tells us that there is a direct link between poverty and child and adolescent mental health. The circumstances in which children and adolescents live have a significant impact on their mental health — both in childhood and adulthood.

On the other hand, living with a mental health challenge, in turn increases the risk of descending into or staying in poverty. A vicious cycle is born. In a society where the majority still live below the poverty line, being able to maintain good mental health is fundamental to ending the cycle of poverty.
15 Oct 2022

On Sunday 9 October, the South African Human Rights Commission, together with the departments of justice and basic education, hosted the final stages of the 2022 National Schools Moot Court Competition. The competition is a product of various stakeholders, including dedicated teachers, parents and officials of the organising institutions. However, the moot court programme is a conveyor belt for a human rights-conscious young populace, who are also future leaders of this country.
By Fatima Chohan

24 September 2022

At a recent seminar held by the South African Human Rights Commission on the topic of “The Erosion of Rule of Law”, the notion of a South African nation was disputed by the presenter who argued that we are not now, nor have we ever been, anything akin to a nation.
10 September 2022

By Ntombenhle Ngwane

National Heritage Day, celebrated in South Africa every year on September 24, is one of the holidays that encourage citizens to unite while celebrating their diversities. In 2005, a media campaign sought the rebranding of the National Heritage Day to be known as “The National Braai Day”, and later “Braai4Heritage”.

Sep 5, 2022

By Thembelihle Links

In South Africa, an Integrated Development Plan (IDP), which is a legal instrument for municipal planning, is considered the best tool to respond to the developmental needs of local communities. Although IDPs reflect the plans and aspirations of Municipal Councils, they do not always materialise.

29 Aug 2022

The Constitution establishes three spheres of government. Although all three are important in the advancement of human rights, there is no dispute that local government is at the coalface of the realisation of most of these basic human rights. But this is the sphere where all is not well.

29 August, 2022

By Wisani Baloyi

As the country grapples with the aftermath of a hard lockdown and its related economic challenges, the pattern of human rights complaints received by the South African Human Rights Commission (the Commission) continues to follow a worrying trend. The 2020/21 Trends Analysis Report (TAR), launched by the commission on July 13, paints a worrying picture of the state of socio-economic condition in the country. Socio-economic rights complaints have now featured among the top three rights violations reported to the commission.
29 Aug 2022

By Yuri Ramkissoon

Poverty in South Africa’s rural areas and smaller municipalities is exacerbated by their small revenue base. Immediate targeted interventions by the national government are needed for severely impoverished areas in less populated provinces.
16 March 2022

On 1 March 2022, and as part of the processes of the national hearing into the July 2021 unrest, the South Africa Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) visited Alexandra township in Gauteng. For many, the July unrest, and general discontent in many communities like Alex, represent a nudge to society that the benefit of all, equally and without prejudice, from the post-1994 democratic project is a non-negotiable requirement for peace and security. It stands ghastly in the narrative of the democratic experience as a spectral reminder that until all are confident in the progressive realisation of their human rights, none can guarantee the security of theirs.
Basic education is an immediately realisable right in the Constitution, but we must define the terms

Date: January 28 to February 3 2022
Comment: André Gaum

South African society has one supreme law that stands over and above all others: the Constitution. It is the body of funda-
mental principles that outlines the legal foundation for  the  existence of our republic and states the rights and duties of its citizens and those we elect to govern us. One of those fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution is that: “Everyone has the right to a basic education”, per section 29 (1)(a).
In many senses this particular right is a special right in the Constitution and different from many others since it is “immediately realisable”. Unlike the other socioeconomic rights in the Constitution — such as the rights to housing, healthcare, food, water and further education — there is no inherent qualification to the right to a basic education.
10 August 2021

By Allan Tumbo

The government has the task of eradicating GBV in SA and restructuring a historically unequal economy that marginalises women and youth, while preparing for a future that may bring further inequalities. Yet the government alone cannot accomplish this task.
By Gushwell Brooks on 13 June 2021

“Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another.” These words echoed throughout the world on 10 May 1994 when Nelson Mandela was inaugurated as South Africa’s first democratically elected president; an election in which all citizens, 18 years and older, despite race, ethnicity, gender or any other discriminating factor, could participate.
By André Gaum, Kenneth Sithebe and Sifiso Tembani•

9 June 2021

André Gaum is a commissioner at the South African Human Rights Commission, Khulisumuzi Kenneth Sithebe is a research adviser at the SAHRC and Sifiso Tembani is a consultant in the education sector.
By Bongani Majola

8 Mar 2021
The South African Human Rights Commission, and the rest of South Africa, felt a sense of relief when the first batch of Covid-19 vaccines arrived on 1 February.
22 September 2020

By Eden Esterhuizen and Commissioner Andre Gaum

Sexual violence in schools is a pervasive issue, affecting both learners and teachers.
From time to time, a news report will be published about comprehensive cover-ups of systemic sexual abuse within a school. The public, the department of basic education, Parliament, and chapter 9 institutions all react with outrage. As we should. Yet, a few months later, a similar story hits the news, and our reaction is the same. Shock. Outrage. And a call to action.
4 May 2020

Before the advent of constitutional democracy of 1994, torture, other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment was employed as a matter of course by the repressive apartheid and colonial regimes, through police and military personnel. These brutal practices either formally formed part of the pre-1994 South African penal and judicial system formally, or were unofficially employed by state actors, with complete disregard for human rights. Yet these individuals and the regime of the time faced little or no consequences for such actions.
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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.

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