News / South Africa

Sanele Gumada
2 minute read
20 Mar 2018
6:30 am

No human rights for many in SA

Sanele Gumada

Among the issues are high crime rates and poor quality education, while Jacob Zuma’s regime 'damaged the voices of many'.

DA Gauteng shadow MEC for education Khume Ramulifho peeks through a broken window during an oversight visit to Phuthaditshaba Primary School in Atteridgeville, Pretoria. Picture: Jacques Nelles

As Human Rights Day is observed tomorrow, there are still harsh realities facing the poor and marginalised in South Africa even 24 years into democracy, and these realities need to be addressed urgently.

Commentators have said there is a need to assess laws and policies relating to key issues in South Africa, with victims largely being left voiceless due to their leaders not taking human rights violations seriously enough.

“The stance of human rights is bad and we want to be compared with what our constitution is saying. South Africa has worked hard for its liberation and its constitution,” Human Rights Institute of South Africa director Corlette Letlojane said.

“We are working with our leaders and we have voted for democracy and for accountable leaders to be stewards for our resources,” said Letlojane. “These violations instil fear and belittle South Africans. We are back to where we were before 1994. We need to change the living conditions…”

Centre for Constitutional Rights’ Phephelaphi Dube said South Africans also faced high crime rates, lack of access to healthcare and poor quality of education. This means there is a disconnect between the laws and policies and the reality on the ground, she added.

It was only under former president Nelson Mandela that South Africa had seen a positive contribution towards strengthening human rights, said Letlojane.

“Mandela positively contributed towards the AU Constitutive Act and his concern about human dignity. He was even concerned about what was happening beyond SA borders,” she said.

She criticised former president Jacob Zuma’s regime for “damaging the voices of many”.

“We’ve seen the civic space shrinking, as well as targeting of voices of those who refuse to validate corruption. Those who wanted to advance the countries constitution also became the enemy of the regime. It was personalised and there was fear to talk about the constitution. Civil societies were referred to as foreigners to regime change,” Letlojane said.

“Even though human rights are interdependent, interrelated and indivisible, the fulfilment of rights which require the state to act positively in order to achieve a particular right, for example, the right to access adequate housing, appear to lag behind.”

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