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SAHRC repositions itself to be more responsive

Friday, 02 September 2011

1. Rethinking the Commission

The Commission is repositioning itself to be more responsive to the needs of South Africans. The Commission’s 2011 first plenary report (quarterly) indicates that despite experiencing formidable challenges, the institution’s process of rethinking and realigning its ways of delivering on its mandate, is progressing markedly well.

According to the Commission Chief Executive Officer, Mr Kayum Ahmed, “The process of rethinking the Commission, which was initiated late last year, involves asking difficult questions, reviewing performance, critical self-reflection and ultimately, realigning our limited resources with a structure that ensures greater organisational effectiveness.”

The Commission Chairperson Adv Lawrence Mushwana says that the Commissioners have been working closely with the Secretariat to ensure that this process receives the support it requires.

As a result of this process, the Commission’s performance has improved from 52% in 2009/10 to 67% in 2010/11.  Despite this significant improvement in performance, Mr Ahmed is determined to achieve 100% of the Commission’s strategic objectives in the next three years.
 2. Notable Interventions in Complaints
  • Complaints on the construction of open toilets in Makhaza and Rammulutsi: The Commission successfully intervened in the complaints regarding the construction of open toilets in Makhaza and Rammulutsi Settlements. Subsequent to an investigation and the release of a recommendation report, the complaint relating to the Makhaza open toilets was finalised through the courts. Following the Cape High Court judgment on this matter, the City of Cape Town subsequently announced a process of implementing the findings of the court.

    Meanwhile, following its finalisation of the complaint against the Moqhaka Municipality for its construction of open toilets in the Rammulutsi Settlement, the Commission recently wrote to Free State Provincial Government to enquire about the progress that has been made in the implementation its recommendations;
  • The UCT Affirmative Action Complaint: The Commission found that the University of Cape Town Medical School did not violate the right to equality of Mr James Kemp of the Freedom Front Plus who had complained that, by lowering its admission requirements for previously disadvantaged communities, the University was in breach of the constitution;
  • The Complaint against the Presidential Special Protection Unit: The Commission found that members of the Presidential Special Protection Unit violated the rights of Mr Chumani Maxwele after they arrested and detained him for allegedly gesturing with his middle finger at a convoy of police vehicles which was reportedly transporting President Jacob Zuma. During this incident Mr Maxwele is also alleged to have resisted arrest.
3. International delegations visit the Commission
During the period under review the Commission received and engaged the following high-level international delegations:

  • Delegation from Nepal – 14 April 2011;
  • Skype meeting – Tunisia – sharing SA experiences of negotiated transition – 4 May 2011;
  • Delegation from Sudan– 5 May 2011;
  • Delegation from the Supreme Court Iran Human Rights – 12 May 2011;
  • Delegation from China – 13 June 2011.

4. Other notable successes

  • Took over as Chair of the Network of Human Rights Institutions
  • The Commission held a successful workshop on Law Enforcement and Police Brutality from 06 – 07 July 2011;
  • Activated various Section 05 Committees- Acid Mine Drainage, Torture, Child Rights and Education, Housing, Service Delivery and Older Persons. These Committees are provided for in Section 05 of the Human Rights Act and their purpose is to advise the Commission;
  • Provided quality once-off legal advice and assistance to 1131 victims of human rights violations;
  • Conducted about 126  community outreach interventions to educate members of the public about human rights;
  • In order to deliver on its mandate in terms of complaints handling, a process has been initiated to revise the current complaints handling processes of the Commission;
  • To strengthen efforts aimed at combating discrimination and other intolerances, the Commission has undertaken a process of evaluating the effectiveness of Equality Courts within all nine provinces;
  • The Commission hosted a consultative dialogue on the Role and Leadership of South Africa at the UN Human Rights Council on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity. The dialogue resulted in government taking a proactive stance at the council which resulted in the passing of a resolution protect the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and inter-sexed (LGBTI) people;
  • Participated at the meeting initiated by the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development under the auspices of a Cluster: Government Departments and Chapter 9 Institutions on Corrective Rape. The Cluster seeks to draft an intervention plan to protect members of the LGTBI community against violence.
5. Current Affairs

 The Commission has observed with concern the following issues as reported by the media:
  • Incidents of hate speech and national discourse which is characterised by intolerance
  • acts of corruption and poor service delivery;
  • the killing police officers and acts of police brutality;
  • the violation of children’s rights and the crisis in education.
Looking ahead, Adv. Mushwana believes that one of the most significant challenges for the Commission is getting government to move away from its compliance driven approach to rights, to a substantive understanding of its human rights obligations.
For further enquiries: Vincent Moaga on 073 562 9866

For comments email info@sahrc.org.za [Back]

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Since its establishment, the SAHRC has dedicated itself to:
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