Government is failing South Africans on basic human rights

 ·8 Apr 2023

The South African government is failing South Africans on several basic human rights.

According to the Amnesty International Report 2022/23, new conflicts, heavy-handed oppression from authorities, economic crises, and discrimination against women, children, and LGBTI people have been prevalent worldwide in the last 12 months.

South Africa has seen a major increase in gender-based violence, with 989 women killed between July and September. Sexual offences (11%) and rape (10%) also grew in the timeframe.

Although South Africa adopted a National Strategic Plan on Gender-Based Violence and Femicide in 2019, a national council is still yet to be established. Moreover, a review of the first year since the plan’s adoption showed that 55% of targets had not been met.

The DNA backlog – crucial for gender-based violence cases – also remained high.

Despite nearly 99 cases of rapes by police officers being reported to the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID), only 64 cases were recommended for prosecution, raising concerns over police accountability.

In terms of sexual and reproductive rights, South Africa continues to have a large number of early pregnancies.

Over 90,000 girls between the ages of 10 and 19 gave birth between April 2021 and May 2022.

Amnesty International said that a lack of access to reproductive health services, shortage of contraceptives, inadequate sex education, poverty and gender-based violence are all responsible for the rise in early pregnancies.

In addition, the right to education is plagued by dangerous and inadequate infrastructure.

The Department of Basic Education’s 2021/22 annual report said that nearly 3,000 schools in the country still used pit latrines, which violates the rights to health, dignity, safety and life.

The situation has since worsened, with the minister of education, Angie Motshekga saying that over 3,330 schools currently have pit latrines.

As reported by EWN, the department said that it would eliminate pit latrines from schools by 2025, however, it has missed several previous deadlines to do so.

In terms of the right to water and sanitation, Amnesty International said that the government made no systematic efforts to ensure that people had access to water after widespread floods in KZN and the Eastern Cape in 2022.

Although the rainfall in KZN was exacerbated by climate change, Amnesty International said that the local government’s poor spatial planning and maintenance worsened the situation.

Moreover, the severe water shortages in the Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality have been worsened by the failure of local authorities to fix leaks that caused the city to lose 29% of its water.

The effects of the flooding in KZN also affected the right to housing for many South Africans, with over 8,000 houses destroyed and over 13,000 damaged. The European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations said that 40,000 people were left without homes.

Residents had been moved to the flood-prone area of Isipingo from Durban City in 2009, ahead of the 2010 World Cup. Although the government promised to find alternative housing within six months, this remains unrealised.

In addition, excessive use of force by the police remains an issue in South Africa.

The IPID’s 2021/22 annual report recorded over 3,000 cases of assault, over 700 discharges of an official firearm, and over 200 deaths in police custody.

The reported deaths as a result of police action also grew to 410, an increase from 353 the previous year.

Finally, Amnesty International said that South Africa lacks legislation to hold government and businesses accountable for climate commitments.

Although the Climate Change Bill was tabled in parliament, there are concerns that the bill in its current form does not go far enough to address the urgent imperatives of the climate crisis.

South Africa adopted a new Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) in 2021, aiming to reduce emissions with a 12-32% target range reduction. However, this figure falls short of the figure required to keep the rise of global temperatures below 1.5 celsius.

Although President Cyril Ramaphosa Just Energy Transition Investment Plan at COP26, mining-affected communities in Mumpalagna have rejected the bill due to a lack of consultation.

Read: The shocking state of education in South Africa 

Show comments
Subscribe to our daily newsletter