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Transforming Society

Securing Rights

Restoring Dignity

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.
01 April 2020

It is of great concern that despite the rights contained in international conventions and the Bill of Rights, there is still a large human rights implementation gap in South Africa.
This is partly due to a lack of adequate and efficient systems to monitor the implementation of these rights as well as what informs decision-making on the allocation of resources towards the realisation of these rights.
Gushwell Brooks

26 Feb 2020

HUMAN RIGHTS

On the evening of Thursday, February 6, 23-year-old Lindokuhle Cele went to his butchery in uMlazi, KwaZulu-Natal. While he was waiting to be served, a taxi pulled up and a man jumped out, walked up to Cele and stabbed him.  
23 February 2020

Win by Team SA, made up of intelligent and vibrant youngsters, gives hope that our human rights future is in good hands, writes André Gaum and Gushwell F Brooks

The SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) joined the rest of South Africa in congratulating the International Moot Court champions – Team SA – on their phenomenal win at the fifth International School Moot Court Competition in Gdynia, Poland, on January 31 this year.
Early last year the commission became the lead institution in presenting the National Schools Moot Court Competition (NSMCC) with our main partners being the departments of basic education and justice and constitutional development and the Centre for Human Rights.
This provided an opportunity to all grades 10 and 11 pupils to participate in the competition.
6 February 2020

It will take the end of patriarchy and an efficient justice system to jail more offenders

Gushwell Brooks

An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.” This saying, attributed to Gandhi, best describes South Africa’s departure from capital punish- ment in the seminal Constitutional Court  case  State  v  Makwanyane and Another, which was decided on June 6 1995 and which re-affirmed the fundamental right to life and human dignity, as enshrined in the Bill of Rights of the Constitution.
15 November 2019

To address the systemic issues of racial discrimination, broad social and economic transformation is required in SA

The dust has settled on the 2019 national elections, and, while politics con-tinues, life goes on much as it always has for the majority of people in South Africa. Poverty and inequality remain stag-geringly high and the face of poverty remains black.
11 October 2019

The concept of access to justice has become a global issue and has received recognition locally, regionally, and internationally. The right of access to justice is a fundamental human right which is not a “nice-to-have”, but a “must-have”. The ability to access justice unlocks all the other rights that a citizen has in any constitution of the country which she or he lives in. Freedom under a democracy is meaningless if people are not able to access their rights. Therefore, the right of access to justice is a fundamental human and democratic right which is a central pillar of a free and equal society founded on the rule of law.
5 Apr 2019
    
The Constitution of South Africa provides for justiciable socio-economic rights. The right of access to adequate housing is one of the rights guaranteed in the Bill of Rights in section 26 of the Constitution. The Constitutional Court in Jaftha v Schoeman and Others, Van Rooyen v Stoltz and Others 2005 (2) SA 140 (CC) stated the importance of the right of access to adequate housing in the following terms:
“Section 26 must be seen as making that decisive break from the past. It emphasises the importance of adequate housing and in particular security of tenure in our new constitutional democracy. The indignity suffered as a result of evictions from homes, forced removals and the relocation to land often wholly inadequate for housing needs has to be replaced with a system in which the state must strive to provide access to adequate housing for all and, where that exists, refrain from permitting people to be removed unless it can be justified.”

29 March 2019

The Constitution of South Africa provides for justiciable socio-economic rights. The right of access to adequate housing is one of the rights guaranteed in the Bill of Rights in section 26 of the Constitution. The Constitutional Court in Jaftha v Schoeman and Others, Van Rooyen v Stoltz and Others 2005 (2) SA 140 (CC) stated the importance of the right of access to adequate housing in the following terms:

29 March 2019

On 13 November 2018, the Daily Maverick published an article written by Professor Belinda Bozzoli, a Member of Parliament and the Democratic Alliance’s shadow Minister for Higher Education and Training, entitled “What happens when universities start to decay: The case for Unisa”.  As a whole, the article is a vituperative attempt to undermine the credibility of the South African Human Rights Commission (‘the Commission’) and shows a patent lack of comprehension of its role and the methodologies employed in the course of its investigations.  Her observations, understood properly in context, recruits the pernicious sentiment that the Commission is moribund and needs resuscitation.  It conveys the message that the Commission does not have the ability and depth to carry out its constitutional and legislative mandate and therefore is not worthy of the respect accorded to it as an institution mandated to carry the vital function of strengthening constitutional democracy.

29 march 2019

I hate tribalism with the same vigor that many black South Africans show whenever a racist incident occurs. Every time I hear someone uttering degrading statements about my tribe, Tsonga, I feel doubly discriminated against. I am black and Tsonga.

29 March 2019

The concept of access to justice has become a global issue and has received recognition locally, regionally, and internationally. The right of access to justice is a fundamental human right which is not a “nice-to-have”, but a “must-have”. The ability to access justice unlocks all the other rights that a citizen has in any constitution of the country which she or he is resident in. Freedom under a democracy is meaningless if people are not able to access their rights. Therefore, the right of access to justice is a fundamental human and democratic right which is a central pillar of a free and equal society founded on the rule of law.
28 March 2019

The United Nations has dedicated the 22rd of March as World Water Day, in efforts to raise awareness about this vital resource and to encourage commitments by States that in the quest for water, no one should be left behind. January 2019 marked five years after the tragic death of Michael Komape, a 5 year old boy who helplessly drowned in excrement after falling into a pit latrine in 2014. The incident was sadly not the first to occupy prominent headlines exposing the shockingly unacceptable state of school infrastructure in South Africa.
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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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