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By Citizen Reporter


Human Rights Commission disappointed by violence used as ‘message’ during protests

The commission said it implores those protesting to also bear their responsibilities - not just rights in mind.

The South African Human Rights Commission (Sahrc) has called on government and institutions of higher learning to do everything in their power to put an end to violent protests in the country.

The Sahrc also said it was disappointed and concerned by violence being regarded as the preferred method of ‘getting the message’ across.

Wits and Nehawu

The commission said in a statement on Wednesday that it was concerned about the Wits University student protest and National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) picket accompanied by violence.

The students have been protesting since last week, demanding the university to allow those owing R150 000 or less to register for the 2023 academic year. They also demanded accommodation, among other things.

ALSO READ: Students threaten to ‘burn down’ Wits VC’s home if demands not met

Patients have been turned away at various hospitals after Nehawu and other unions blocked the entrance with burning tyres.

Section 17 of Constitution

“The commission strongly supports the right to access higher education as well as the right to a living wage. It supports the actions of students and workers alike to resort to peaceful protest in expressing their grievances focusing attention to their situation.”

“The commission implores those who are protesting to also bear their responsibilities, not just rights, in mind. Among others, they are urged to respect the rights of others, more especially in essential service where blocking of hospital operations, as reported in the media, can have devastating consequence on patients who need medical assistance,” the statement reads.

Sahrc has also emphasised that according to Section 17 of the Constitution – everyone has the right, peacefully and unarmed to assemble, to demonstrate, to picket and to present petitions. For it to be lawful, the exercise of such rights must take place peacefully and with due regard to the rights of others.


The commission further acknowledged that the country is grappling with multiple economic challenges, which include the rising cost of living and the high levels of unemployment, poverty and inequality.

“These challenges impact severely not only on the workers but their ability to service their debts which may include paying the tertiary tuition fees for their children. 

“We also request Nehawu to be considerate to the wasted travel and catering costs for those who travelled from far yet have not been able to access healthcare services as a result of disruptions at various healthcare facilities across the country.”

NOW READ: Patients desperate for medical attention as Nehawu strike goes into day three

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