Monthly Archives: August 2021

Human Rights Institute of South Africa (HURISA) condemns with contempt it deserves the mafia style and cold-blooded killing of Ms Babita Deokaran, on Monday morning 23 August 2021, outside her house after dropping her daughter at school. This is nothing but blatant impunity at the core of the society. Ms Deokaran held a high position as the Chief Director of Financial Accounting at the Gauteng Provincial Department of Health. This is where her role was so vital as a witness in the PPE corruption scandal under the Special Investigation Unit (SIU) investigation. We understand there are other witnesses who face life risk for shedding light that would hold corrupt officials accountable.

This is another cruel murder the citizens of this country witnessed on broad day light, during the Women’s Month. Her death is added among the list of virtuous women we lost in this country in a new human rights dispensation. The continuous assassination of law-abiding citizens in the country is historical and this barbaric act evidence a deep-seated culture of reprisals, assassins in our society same as in the dark era of apartheid.

In this atmosphere of marking the 25th Anniversary of our hard-earned Constitution and 27 years of human rights and democracy in South Africa, we see little steps made to protect citizens performing human rights duties. Performance of human rights duties in community, public or in private sphere, is recognised as a right by international human rights institutions.

South Africa Constitution guarantee individuals the right to life as non degorable in all times either in public or public sphere. South Africa is also bound by international and regional human rights instruments to protect the rights of citizens against reprisals, extra judicial killings, intimidation, and harassment for defending human rights. These instruments emphasise the significance of freedom of association and expression, which Ms Deokaran was deprived by her assailants to fulfil without fear of losing her life. South Africa’s maturing democracy need to results in ensuring free and safe environments for performing human rights.

The new environment recognises any person acting individually or in association with others promoting and protecting national, regional and international human rights as a Human Rights Defenders (HRDs). This is safeguarded in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society (UNDHRDs), adopted by the UN General Assembly, on 9 December 1998.

It places a duty on states to take necessary steps to ensure conducive environments for all persons under its jurisdiction, defending rights individually or in association with others. While the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR) adopted Resolution 273 reiterating protection of HRDs performing human rights individually and in association with others. The Commission has also conducted a research study on the situation of Women Human Rights Defenders in Africa. Substantive recommendations are provided emphasising development of legal frameworks to enable safe environments for WHRDs conduct their human rights work fear. Whistle Blowers fulfils roles of HRDs and in this case Ms Deokaran sacrificed her life, as a loyal citizen that carried her public function with distinction and integrity as a WHRDs, by ensuring SIU is appraised with the necessary accurate evidence for prosecution of the suspects of the PPE corruption.

We are calling the government and law enforcement to uphold the national legal frameworks, (Protected Disclosure Act), including, international and regional human rights instruments ratified by South Africa ensuring safe environments for reporting corruption by all citizens, including public servants, CSOs from the grass roots, activists, journalists, unionists, lawyers, judges promote and protect human rights independently the country.

We are calling law enforcement to be diligence in turning South Africa ‘s current culture of impunity to safe communities,
•To contribute effectively in building a crime free society based on human rights.
•To combat all criminal syndicates that have found fertile ground in South Africa and make their crime drives lives intolerable.
•Not to leave any stone unturned in finding the whereabouts of all involved in the assassination of Ms Deokaran, including protecting potential individual (s) on the alleged hit list, to urgently account for their cruel and inhumane acts.
•Ensure prosecution of all suspects with no leniency given upon their heartless crime, including bail not be considered as well as harsh convictions and sentences be handed
•This must come to end, our country has had enough of the heinous and atrocious criminal acts: #Enoughis#isEnough #Fight Corruption, #ProtectHRDs, #EndPersecutionsWHRDs, #EndintimidationsHRDs, #End-ExtrajudicialKillingsof WHRDs.

9 August is a National Women’s Day in South Africa which leads to commemoration of the Women’s Month. The day is dedicated to honor the #1956 Women for partaking in a peaceful protest organized by the brave legendary women: Lilian Ngoyi, Helen Joseph, Rahima Moosa, and Sophia Williams. The protest denounced the extension of the pass laws to women in South Africa. The pass laws subjected black people entering the white suburbs to torture, cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment. The protest brought together over 20 000 women from diverse races that marched at the Union Buildings in Pretoria.This Women’s Month provides the opportunity to reflect on women’s achievements, their struggles, and the important role they play in the society.

South Africa is also paying a special tribute to 150 years of Charlotte Maxeke for her heroic roles as the first Black Woman Human Rights Defender (WHRDs) in South Africa. She fought the injustice of apartheid characterized by discrimination, inequality, and violence. Her legacy laid a good foundation for women’s rights to assembly, association, expression, as safeguarded in the Constitution. These rights are entrenched in international and regional human rights treatise promoting women’s rights binding South Africa. Since 2019, the government has made great strides in adopting several National Action Plans. These include, NAP Women Peace and Security, NAP on Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance and NSP on to Gender Based Violence – Femicide, which is a comprehensive framework supporting South Africa achieve “a violent free society protecting women and girls.

Just recently, Human Rights Institute of South Africa (HURISA) and Inequality Movement (IM) jointly documented the deep-seated challenges facing women impedes their full enjoyment of guaranteed rights. In 27 years of consolidated democracy and 25 years of constitutional dispensation, women and girls continue to live in environment below the minimum standards required for their safety, peace and security. Gender based violence is confirmed secondary pandemic in the country

•About 10 000 sexual offence cases, including rape, The SAPS fourth quarter crime statistics 2020/2021 reported.

•Every 3 hours a woman is murdered in South Africa and 2 695 women were murdered between 2019-2020 reported by the World Health .

•The LGBTIQ+ community fears that KwaZulu-Natal is becoming a hotspot for hate crime following the brutal death of Anele Bhengu (21) in June. These include Sphamandla Khoza, Nonhlalhla Hunene, Lindokuhle Mapu and Khulekani Gomazi who were all murdered in KZN this year.

•56% of positive COVID-19 cases are women according to Gauteng Department of Health’s Mpilo database (dated 6 March – 27 November 2020) published on 1 December 2020.

•53.5% female headed household are in rural areas according to the CGE 2020 Report. This means women continue to bear major responsibilities for unpaid household and care work, and so the time and labor burdens associated with lack of infrastructure fall heavily on them.

•Lack of accessible service delivery sites in rural areas and the cost of transportation to obtain documentation and apply for social grant remain a huge challenge. This includes the under-staffing and insufficient community facilities often located too far from communities. This is evident by the long queues at service points, backlog of clients and a slow grant disbursement process.

•The latest version of Traditional Courts Bill encroaches upon access to justice rights of women living in rural areas by denying them the option to choose besides the traditional courts adjudication with.

•Communication infrastructure and internet access can be delayed by the gender stereotypical comment you received by women community activists from the community complaints that wives can’t use smartphones or use a community network because WhatsApp is not good, they will cheat on them, and their families will be destroyed what did you do about it? According APCNew page 06 August 2020

Recommendations to the government and institutions responsible for enforcing women and girls’ rights:
•Accelerate efforts from policy to practical implementation of NSP on Gender Based Violence & Femicide. Including fast tracking the signing off the three GBV legislation for comprehensive implementation in communities to eliminate violent scourge directed at women and girls

•Adopt legislation protecting women living in rural areas enjoy their fundamental rights to access justice, health, information, internet. These should be aligned with international and regional human rights instruments ratified by South Africa

•Protect women and girls to live in safe and violent free environments regardless of their background, status, orientation, ensuring all vulnerable groups including LGBTIQ, migrants and not subjected to xenophobia and hate crimes.

•Implement all national action plans to address Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance launched in 2019 for transformation.

•Develop a law for protection of CSOs and community-based activists functioning as women human rights defenders to perform their roles without prejudice, stereotypes, and fear of reprisal, in the country especially in rural areas.

In conclusion, as we commemorate National Women’s Month, we encourage women to emulate the spirit of the 1956 legends Lilian Ngoyi, Helen Joseph, Rahima Moosa, Sophia Williams and Charlotte Maxeke for setting a good foundation for protection of women and respecting their voices.

HURISA is launching the CSO CEDAW Shadow Report on 19 August 2021. Save the date for this launch which will be conducted virtually.

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