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16 June 2020

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The June month is dedicated to commemoration of the SOWETO uprising that took place on 16 June 1976. It was led by school children protesting against the introduction of Afrikaans as a medium of instruction in South African Schools by the apartheid regime. The apartheid regime enforced a separate development system to maintain supremacy of the minority over the majority. This was with a view to sustain segregation, suppression of political right for black people, inequality, promotion of inhuman and degrading treatment of black people with impunity! All laws, policies, programmes, plans and strategies promoted injustice and exclusion of the majority. The youth of 1976 are remembered for their bravery in organising a historical protest to confront a heavily armed state security with lethal grenades, tear gas, preventing them from expressing their views against inferior education system! School children across SOWETO townships joined the protest to resist lessons to be taught in Afrikaans. This dark day ended with many youth massacred, injured, arbitrarily arrested and many skipped the country in fear of reprisals, extra judicial killings targeting youth leaders and organisers of the march.

This year commemoration of the youth month coincide with efforts to combat an invisible new novel coronavirus which is affecting the global community. The government has placed the nation under lockdown with restrictive measures to contain the pandemic. These include maintenance of hygiene, regular washing of hands with safe water, soap, sanitising and social distancing. These measures are set to save lives of citizens from contacting the virus! The country completed alerts levels 5, 4 and commenced alert level 3 on 1 June 2020. Although this level eased some regulations allowing movement of people, the public is still required to observe hygiene protocols and ensure compliance to curb the virus, including washing of hands with safe water, social distancing, scanning and tracking of infected people, sanitising, especially in public & private lives. The Department of Basic Education had reported it’s preparedness and readiness to reopen schools and learners to assume classes as from 1 June 2020. However, many schools are not adequately prepared to implement the protocol set to prevent COVID 19. There are schools without infrastructure for safe water, sanitation and still using pit toilets. HURISA has been monitoring the situation closely in collaboration with it’s Human Rights Forum and Youth Economic & Social network.

A petition was issued with recommendations to DBE protect the health and well-being of all children. Dates for reopening schools has been postponed to 8 June 2020. We are concerned that many schools might not be ready to reopen on 8 June 2020 living behind many disadvantaged children from learning!

We are calling the DBE to protect the rights of all children in South Africa and prioritise the needs in disadvantaged schools particularly to ensure all school adhere to protocols adopted to curb coronavirus. Provide adequate assistance to these schools to enable them practice hygiene, including washing hands regularly with safe water and soap, sanitisers, with safe and healthy sanitation and keeping social distance to avoid overcrowding in classes.

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We hope this mail reach you in good health and safe under this difficult period of COVID19.

On the occasion of Freedom Day 27, April 2020, we South Africa Human Rights Forum, comprising of diverse representatives of community based organisations, civil society organisations, human rights defenders, gender based activists, women, children, youth, people with disabilities, people with albinism, sexual orientation and gender identity, environmentalist, interfaith, traditional activists, academicians and individuals commend the Department of Basic Education for the comprehensive Curriculum Recovery Plan Readiness, April 2020 for recovery of the lost time for teaching and the efforts that are made for resuming the teaching and learning from 6 May 2020. We totally agree with you that the reality of COVID19 impacted enormously on the conventional physical and face to face teaching. This require pliable teaching methods that will not compromise the quality of both curriculum and outcome. We welcome the decision of Department to use the online tools and remote digital system for teaching learners. Internet is a human rights which place a duty on the state to ensure its accessibility to all in the country.

However, we are concerned that many communities have no infrastructure for internet. The Department is also aware that many leaners don’t have access to online platforms. It will also be unreasonable to expect parents to do something about this under this difficult time of COVID 19. We realise that despite these challenge the Department is going ahead with the online teaching with no alternative arrangement made for learners who don’t have access to online platforms. This means efforts to recoup learner’s time will only benefit privilege learners. Unfortunately this will infringe on children’s safeguarded rights to equality, respect of human dignity; as well as section 28 which esteem children’s matters as paramount. The departments has a duty to protect and promote every leaner’s right to access quality, equitable and relevant education. Over and above this, the Minister is expected to ensure no child is left behind in effecting the realisation of Goal 4 of Sustainable Development which promotes accessible quality education for all learners.
In this regard, we are calling the Minister of Basic Education to make alternative arrangements for leaners who don’t have access to online platform to access quality education during and beyond the lockdown. We request the Minister to particularly do the following;

(A) Access to Quality Education and access of online lessons

1. Provide 5g for Primary Learners : Grade 7-5
2. Provide 15g for Secondary Learners : G10-12
3. Buy time on local radio stations for wider access of lessons for (i) Local Radio Programming Broadcasting Curriculum Lessons , as per Grade Group
4. Audio lessons on SD Cards to be distributed among learners in rural areas with curriculum guides and time frames
5. Data bundles for resourced learners with smartphones in urban areas
(B) Poor Infrastructure development in schools

1. To progressively address the issue of poor school conditions in disadvantaged communities
2. Forge partnership with communities and private sector to provide generators in school with no electricity

(C) Mitigation and Protection of Learners from spread of COVID 19

1. Promote practice of hygiene by making wearing of face masks compulsory in all schools
2. Provide safe water for regular washing of hands with soap
3. End inhuman degrading condition of sanitation in disadvantaged communities , posing health risk to learners and teachers

(D) Long term and sustainable solution

1. Increase capacities for advancement of work of the Department by advertising new in sectors working in communities. Especially within the creative artisan, writers, authors, story tellers, ICT, retired teachers, nurses, and youth for example will benefit immensely as a group with highest unemployment rate in the country. We believe the sectors will add value in to your work this time of need. Lastly, forge partnerships with communities to curb crime, violence, drugs, and gender based violence, including playing constructive roles in curbing the pandemic and successful delivery of the recovery plan.

For More Details Please Contact;

Corlett Letlojane
HURISA Executive Director
082574 7773 & 072 3588611

Dithebe Elias Polelo
GVette Wonga

Kentse Badirwang
Pelegi Movement

Landiwe Mathibela

Bafana Hlatshwayo


Human Rights Day – 21 March

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Theme for Year 2020: Unity, Socio Economic Renewal and Nation Building

21 March is acknowledged as a National Human Rights Day in South Africa. This day has contributed immensely to the history of human rights in South Africa’s. The historical impetus of this day is dedicated to the freedom fighter that sacrificed their lives against the apartheid regime and segregated system that divided people by race & color. Their bravery was demonstrated 60 years ago, on 21 March 1960 when police open fire and massacred 69 people and 150 injured for peaceful protests against “pass laws” which violated their human dignity. This law enforced severe restrictions of movement of African people, then referred to as the natives, required to carry passbooks- known as “dom pass” whenever found outside the homelands or apartheid designated areas. This became the first state of emergency to be declared in South Africa amid violence, arbitrary arrests, police shooting and tear gassing in black townships throughout the country. This massacre made international headlines as the ANC and former President Nelson Mandela were banned from speaking in public. It was only in 1994 when Constitutional democracy guaranteed the citizens freedom of association, assembly and expression. Human Rights Institute of South Africa – HURISA will join the rest of the country to remember the huge price paid by the Sharpeville freedom stalwart’s for our hard earned democracy. The Constitution also safeguard economic and social rights which unfortunately still remain a major struggle of the poor even in the new human rights dispensation.

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CIVICUS and HURISA urge South Africa and SADC to protect Swazi activists

11 April 2014: CIVICUS and the Human Rights Institute of South Africa (HURISA) express shock at the continued harassment and re-arrest of Swazi journalist Bheki Makhubu and human rights lawyer Thulani Maseko.

“The persistent harassment of a well- respected journalist and a human rights lawyer by Swaziland’s dreaded security apparatus is indeed worrying. It is part of a calculated campaign to shut down any kind of dissent in the country,” said Danny Sriskandarajah, the CIVICUS Secretary-General. “South Africa and indeed the South African Development Community (SADC) cannot turn a blind eye to this repression.”

On 9 April 2014, Bheki Makhubu, editor of The Nation magazine and Thulani Maseko, a columnist with The Nation and member of Lawyers for Human Rights Swaziland, were rearrested by members of the Royal Swaziland Police following the issuance of a warrant on the same day. Makhubu and Maseko are reportedly being held at Mbabane Police Station in the capital.

Makhubu and Maseko were originally arrested on March 17 and 18, 2014 respectively on charges of “scandalising the judiciary” and “contempt of court” in relation to two articles published in The Nation in February and March which questioned the independence of the judiciary.  The two activists were reportedly denied access to their lawyers and remanded into custody without the possibility for bail. On April 6, after 20 days in detention at Sidwashini Correctional facility, a High Court judge overturned their arrest.

Both activists have routinely been subjected to judicial harassment for undertaking their legitimate work. In April 2013, Makhubu was sentenced to two years in prison in connection to articles published in The Nation criticising the judicial system. He was released pending appeal.

In June 2009, Maseko was arrested and charged under Swaziland’s draconian Sedition and Subversive Activities Act in an apparent reprisal for his human rights activities.

The continued harassment of Makhubu and Maseko is symptomatic of the government’s growing hostility towards dissenters in the country. Pro-democracy activists and human rights defenders and protestors are routinely targeted under vague and ill-defined provisions of the Suppression of Terrorism Act (2008) and the Sedition and Subversive Activities Act (1938). In September 2013, prominent South African activists Jay Naidoo and Vincent Ncongwane, former secretary general of the Swaziland United Democratic Front, were detained in an apparent attempt to prevent them from taking part in a panel discussion on labour rights violations in Swaziland.

“Swaziland remains the only country in Africa ruled by an absolute monarchy,” said Cortlett Letlojane, Executive Director at HURISA. “With a highly politicised judiciary and consequent lack of domestic recourse to address human rights abuses, the international community must look to proactively engage with the Swazi government to ensure that Human Rights Defenders are afforded adequate protections.”

In May 2012 the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights urged the government of Swaziland to fully adhere to its regional and international human rights obligations, particularly the rights of freedom of expression, association and assembly.  Moreover, as a member of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), Swaziland must observe SADC’s standards governing human rights, democracy and the rule of law.

CIVICUS and the Human Rights Institute of South Africa (HURISA) urge the South African government and the Southern African Development Community to diplomatically engage the Swazi government on the on-going pervasive harassment of human rights defenders and dissenters.  A first step would be the dropping of charges and unconditional release of Bheki Makhubu and Thulani Maseko.

For interviews: Kindly Call

Ms Corlett Letlojane, Executive Director Human Rights Institute of South Africa ,, Mobile :   082 574  7773 Tel:  011 333 1730

Category: press releases

Comments Off on INVITATION!!! :Launch of three months findings enabling environment for civil society in south Africa

The Research Study examined the state of implementation of Freedom of Association, Assembly, Expression, Access to Information & Effective Civil Society Partnerships in South Africa as provided by United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 16:10 & 17:17.

Speakers include Prof Fikeni Samadoda, Mrs Thoko Mpumlwana, Ms Jayshree Pather, Dr Zonke Majodina, Moray Hathorn & Ms Corlett Letlojane

  • Date: Tuesday, 03 July 2018
  • Venue :Webber Wentzel, 90 Rivonia Road, Sandton, Johannesburg
  • Time: 08:30 to 13:30
  • RSVP: By 25 June to Mamphule Ntladi;, or
  • Tshepo Legodi;
Comments Off on Human Rights Institute of South Africa (HURISA): YOUTH DAY STATEMENT 2018

June 2018

June 16 is a historical and a very significant day for the people of South Africa, particularly the youth. This is a day to reflect and honour the youth that was ambushed by the apartheid regime police in Soweto on 16 June 1976 whose human dignity was stripped off brutally, because it was on this day that they took to the streets to protest against the enforcement of the use of Afrikaans language as a medium of instruction for teaching and learning in schools, which was imposed by the apartheid regime.

The 1976 Soweto Uprising is now regarded as a turning point of youth in South Africa because this era marked the beginning of various youth organisations including the Black Consciousness Movement, and many other organisations that played a critical role and became active in the 1980s. This again, is an important reminder that Youth Day serves not only as a reminder of the role of the youth in the liberation struggle, but also of the critical importance of young people as agents of change in the country.

The events of 16 June 1976 highlight a few individuals who took part in the Soweto Uprising. Therefore as we commemorate this day, we acknowledge the challenges that the youth of today still struggle with, because they continue to occupy a special space in our history. In 2015, we have witnessed university students launched a movement called ‘Fees Must Fall’ highlighting the financial constraints they go through at their institutions of learning. The movement became a international ideology and attracted even students from countries such as UK at the Oxford University to also raise their concerns at their own institutions of learning. So essentially, the youth of 1976 was fighting against the Bantu Education, which was inferior policy in schools. Now we see the youth of today fighting against fees and exclusion of learning. And in the midst of all these, we have also seen so many violations of the rights of these students by the police and also by the universities themselves. Students could not express themselves and assemble around their campuses; and therefore it is worrying that the constitution has safeguarded these principles and rights on paper, but it becomes a challenge when they must be practiced. For example, the constitution is explicit about duty of the government to secure the well-being of the people of the Republic of South Africa, section 41 (b) , be loyal to the Constitution, the Republic and its people (d).

42 years since the Soweto uprisings, critical issue among the youth include socioeconomic challenges. Young people still struggle with getting education, which is the most important asset they should acquire. Unemployment, inequality, gender-based violence and social security; and they also experience threats and brutal attacks when they form and/or join civil society organisations, trade unions of their choice or aligning themselves with political issues and raising their concerns on maladministration in governance. And until these issues are addressed and protection provided for the youth, they remain disempowered and demotivated to become the forces of change and development in this country.  This generation of youth stands at the border-line of oppression and transformation, and until their social and economic needs are fulfilled then the transformation and reconstruction will not be sustained. The task of improving young people’s lives in the rural areas, townships, informal settlements must remain a collective commitment by all in South Africa, including state institutions, communities, corporations, traditional and religious sectors. Young people in townships, informal settlements and rural communities still live in inhuman and degrading conditions that defy description. Issues of crime, drug abuse and scourge of violence are what young people deal with on a daily basis in disadvantaged communities; and these are people that need to be prioritised on better living conditions if they are to shape the future of this country. Informal settlements such as Zandspruit and Diepsloot in North of Johannesburg, Tshepisong location in the West Rand continue to face a myriad social and economic challenges; and the most significant issues in informal settlements are abject poverty, quality health care, sanitation, sexual violence, teenage pregnancy, lack of skills, access to capital and social security. National institutions such as Chapter 9 Institutions, NYDA, SALGA, Department of Women, Department of Social Development need to find multidimensional strategies for sustainable measures to deal with these human and societal problems persisting amongst the youth.


For further discussion, contact Mamphule Ntladi

HURISA Assistant Programme Officer:

072 836 4654

Category: press releases














Human Rights Institute of South Africa for release on
10 December 2017- International Human Rights Day*

Despite driving a human rights and anti-racism agenda, South Africa is failing to practically ensure citizens enjoy the rights reflected in our constitution and legislation Looking back since 1996, South Africa has made strides in acceding to numerous international human rights instruments that affirmed the country’s commitment to promotion and protection of human rights. There are several international processes which were South African driven and reflective of our progressive human rights values that made the people of this country very proud.

The World Conference on Racism, Racial Discrimination Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, was hosted in South Africa on 31 August 2001, in Durban, KwaZulu Natal Province. The conference, adopted the Durban Declaration Programme of Action. The country remains a key leader in putting forward positive strategies to the international community to combat racisms and encourage develop National Action Plans including road maps on how to address the scourge.

Despite this contribution, South Africa itself has dragged progress in this area as it is sixteen years (16yrs) since the WACAR and it still has no NAP. Racism remains a deep rooted problem notwithstanding the demise of apartheid policy. This is in spite of laws created to prevent racism such as the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act. The manifestation of racism in people’s daily lives is rampant.

The Durban Declaration and Programme of Action requires States to develop and implement national policies without delay to address discrimination. During South Africa’s 3rd cycle of the Universal Periodic Review, over 30 recommendations were passed by peer states after raising serious concerns about persistence of racism, xenophobia and related intolerance. South Africa was urged to expedite drafting of a NAP for approval and allocation of adequate resources for proper implementation. The delay in outstanding legislation for addressing racism not only impacts negatively on the society, but contradicts South Africa’s role under the DDPA to encourage the international community to implement the NAPs for effective eradication of racism.

Beyond the issue of racism and discrimination, the third UPR cycle has also left South Africa with a total of 243 recommendations passed by peer states.
These relate to
 The existence of torture,
 Statelessness

 Disappearances,
 Discrimination, poverty, inequality
 Sexual and gender based violence,

 Racism, xenophobia and related intolerance;
 Protection of minority rights, vulnerable groups including, migrants, LGBTI, people with albinism, people with disabilities, by acceleration of adoption of hate crime, hate speech legislation for prosecution of perpetrators.

South Africa was also encouraged to ratify key human rights instruments where ratification remains outstanding,including the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families, the Optional Protocol on the Convention Against Torture and the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights, among others.

The HRC also recommended South Africa continue enhancing the realization of the human rights to water and sanitation, to ensure that all homes, health centers and educational establishments have safe drinking water and improved sanitation facilities. South Africa was also requested to reconsider its withdrawal from the RomeStatute of the International Criminal Court by upholding its commitment under those obligations.

South Africa has confirmed 187 recommendations were accepted and indicated that government is committed to working with CSOs and key national human rights institutions. This is a positive step considering that the first and second period reports submitted in 2008 & 2012 respectively did not follow the required standard for consultation with CSOs. The government has begun this process in engaging key stakeholders. However, the current form in which the 187 recommendations is arranged is very confusing. Should this remain it will be difficult to implement as monitoring and evaluation of outcome of the UPR is key. It is also important to assess the reasons for noting other recommendations instead of accepting the 243 recommendations. The other important consideration to be made by South Africa is the establishment of an inter-ministerial committee for
coordination of recommendations obtained from international and regional human rights treaty bodies that monitor’s implementation of human rights instruments, including ensuring South Africa’s regular and timeous submission of periodic reports.

Drawing lessons from past UPR processes and the submission of periodic reports will improve relations between government and CSOs, whose role is imperative for monitoring compliance with the UPR. It is therefore very important that the environment is conducive for functioning of CSOs. The UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders and the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders in Africa have passed recommendations and tools for State Parties to facilitate enabling environments for sustainability of CSOs. UN Resolution 27/31 April 2016 & ACHRP Resolutions 69, 273 are source of reference for improving accountability and ending impunity against human rights protection. South Africa should consider developing a law for promotion and protection of Human Rights Defenders. These
recommendations heightens the country’s progressive human rights framework which emphasize a duty on the state to care for the well-being of the people; as well as being effective, transparent, accountable, consistent and
loyal to people.

For more information contact Tshepo Legodi: 011 402 1103, 079 444 3171
* The United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on 10 December 1948. South Africa was among eight (8) countries that abstained from acknowledging this day as International Human Rights Day. It was only in 1996 that the former President Nelson Mandela recognised the UDHR.

Category: press releases

Commemoration of WHRDs

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As we commemorate INTERNATIONAL WOMEN HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS DAY on 29 November, Human Rights Institute of South Africa (HURISA) and Tshwaranang Legal advocacy Centre (TLAC) are saddened by and deeply mourn the passing on of Beloved Friend, South African Woman Human Rights Defender, Lucrecia Seafield. Words cannot express our profound despair and sorrow. She was devoted stalwart to the struggles and work of Women Human Rights Defenders who continue to face hostilities and operate in grave violent environments for women and children. She will be painfully missed for defending the human rights of all the people indiscriminately, with exceptional integrity, virtuously and professionally in South Africa and across the globe.

She was humble, accessible especially to the Grassroot Communities, women groups, youth formations, child rights advocates, LGBTI activists, refugees and migrants. She demonstrated her passion, compassion, love and care for all people throughout her life. As a sector we have lost a dear friend and words cannot express our pain – an honest human being with a very big heart. She supported all needs of all local CSO’s and Community Based Organisations to advancement of Woman Human Rights defenders.
We Salute You Lucrecia! Your Heroisms will remain in us! We thank you for assisting the Women in South Africa the broader SADC region to push for promotion and protection of Women Peace and Security and the serious strides in pushing Agenda for consolidation of National Action Plan for promotion of Women, Peace and Security in South Africa.
May Your Soul Rest in Peace our Dear Beloved Lucrecia.Lala Kahle Lucrecia Seafield











Category: press releases

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The Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders in Africa, Mrs Reine Alapini-Gansou, has taken note of the promulgation on 13 January 2014 in Nigeria of the Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Act, and is deeply concerned about the consequences this law may have on sexual minorities who are already vulnerable as a result of social prejudice.

The Special Rapporteur is concerned by some provisions of the Act, in particular Sections 4(1) and 5(2) which prohibit and provide for penalties against defenders of the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. These provisions undermine the work of human rights defenders and are against any public debate on this crucial issue.

The Special Rapporteur is concerned by the increase, following the enactment of the law, in cases of physical violence, aggression, arbitrary detention and harassment carried out against human rights defenders dealing with sexual minority rights issues.

The Special Rapporteur strongly condemns such acts which are a violation of the right to life, physical integrity, and freedom of expression and assembly of human rights defenders.

The Special Rapporteur would like to remind the Government of Nigeria of its international obligations under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders.

The Special Rapporteur calls on the Government of Nigeria to ensure that human rights defenders are able to conduct their activities in an enabling environment that is free of stigma and reprisals.

The Special Rapporteur would also like to encourage the Nigerian political authorities to continue their efforts towards ensuring the physical integrity and safety of human rights defenders in Nigeria.

Banjul, 05February2014

Category: press releases