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Media Statement: SAHRC joins the rest of the world in celebrating Mandela Day

18 July 2022

ATT: Editors and Reporters

The South African Human Rights Commission (the Commission) joins South Africans and the world at large in celebrating the Nelson Mandela Day - 2022, themed “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are” to highlight the plight of food security and climate change.

In 2009, when the United Nations General Assembly declared Nelson Mandela’s birthday, the 18th of July, as Nelson Mandela International Day, Madiba called on the people of the world to honour him by helping their communities.

Madiba’s call in 2009 resonates with even greater urgency in South Africa today. In the face of deep poverty and inequality, the scourge of the COVID-19 pandemic, the July 2021 unrest, and natural disasters that recently manifested in KZN, the Eastern Cape and the North-West, increasing incidents of gender-based violence and escalating prices of food, large numbers of people have been rendered even more vulnerable and in need of assistance. It is therefore vital to draw inspiration from this iconic human rights champion to do what we can, wherever we are to help people and protect basic human rights.

The Bill of Rights which in many respects has given legs to our democracy, envisages that the basic human rights of people in our country will be treated with respect in terms of the law. However, despite our gains, institutions supporting democracy, like the South African Human Rights Commission, continue to confront unacceptably high numbers of violations of basic rights each year. In its latest complaints trends reporting, the Commission lamented the abiding high trends in violations of the rights to equality and dignity and socio-economic rights such as education, health and access to water. The trends noted by the Commission do not appear far removed from the findings by the Auditor General who reported that over 175 of South Africa’s 230 municipalities did not have a clean bill of financial health. The correlation between poor financial performance and poor service delivery means that large numbers of people will continue to experience violations of their basic rights.  Exacerbated by disaster and economic austerity, it is very likely that compounded adverse effects to basic human rights will be widely felt.

Madiba’s story, together with those of other freedom fighters, is one of courage, founded on a resolute determination that South Africa would be free and that the basic human rights of all in it would always be respected. The Eastern Cape province, where he was born, and many parts of the country continue to suffer great poverty. In the face of the many challenges which render human rights vulnerable in South Africa, this is an opportune moment in our history to remember the resolve of Nelson Mandela and to commit ourselves to helping others, however we can, wherever we are. The South African Human Rights Commission expresses its appreciation to the public at large, businesses and human rights defenders who have endured despite the enduring vulnerabilities posed to human rights on a daily basis. The Commission calls on all to continue these efforts with even greater resolve in support of our hard won democracy and in honour of the legacy of  Nelson Rohilala Mandela.

In addressing the growing trend of equality race complaints, the Commission is finalizing plans to launch the countrywide Social Harmony National Effort aimed at getting South Africans to recommit to respect, tolerance and acceptance of our diversities. On service delivery and maladministration, the Commission will host a National Conference on Local Governance to be held at the end of August 2022. The Commission aims to convene all stakeholders responsible for the provision of basic services such as water, refuse removal and sanitation to ventilate and address equality and socio-economic challenges in society.

The Commission is calling on law enforcement agencies and relevant entities to increase their efforts to address the scourge of gender-based violence, xenophobia, corruption and maladministration. Intensified programmes to tackle these challenges as well as realise positive prosecutions of perpetrators will help to deter those who continue to disregard the law.

In addition, the Commission is challenging individuals in all spheres of Government, the private sector and South Africans at large to use this year’s Mandela Day to conduct introspection in respect of their own contributions towards nation building, as well as efforts made towards addressing the prevailing human rights challenges in the country.



Wisani Baloyi – Acting Communications Coordinator Tel: 081 016 8308 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Alucia Sekgathume External Communications Tel: 082 689 2364 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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The Human Rights Commission is the national institution established to support constitutional democracy. It is committed to promote respect for, observance of and protection of human rights for everyone without fear or favour.

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