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Media Statement: The South African Human Rights Commission statement on the escalating level of violence against women and children

04 August 2022

Attention: Editors and Reporters

The South African Human Rights Commission (the Commission) is concerned about the escalating high level of gruesome and atrocious attacks on women. The recent reported incidence of alleged gang raping of 8 women in Krugersdorp is a cause for serious concern.

According to reports, young women between 19 and 37 were allegedly raped, some by a group of men who are alleged to be involved in illegal mining. This violent and atrocious attack on the 8 women will leave scars that will affect them for the rest of their lives.

According to the latest crime statistics released by the South African Police Service in June 2022, South Africa’s first three months of 2022 were violent, brutal and unsafe for women and children. Murder, attempted murder and assault grievous bodily harm of women all recorded double-digit increases. Murder and assault grievous bodily harm of children under the age of 17 years, also recorded sharp increases. The first three months of this year, 10 818 people were raped in South Africa.

The people on the West Rand and in other mining areas have for many years now been labouring under the threat of violence and unlawful activity related to illegal mining, posing a serious violation of their rights to security and freedom of movement. In some instances, digging and tunnelling takes place beneath people’s homes posing an imminent risk to their lives and property. The general insecurity on the West Rand due to illegal mining has been a known phenomenon by government which has not adequately and thoroughly attended to the accompanied criminal activity and general lawlessness that accompanies such activities.

The fact that there was a crackdown against perpetrators of the rape of the 8 women, and that approximately 69 people were arrested, and after an exchange of gunfire, between the alleged perpetrators and the police, is a welcomed development. However, what is striking is that locals have complained for years about their safety, and the crime associated with these illegal mining operations in their midst. It raises a class issue that there is an appropriate response only when it appears that victims enjoy some social status, by way of the fact that they are models shooting a music video, but there is a less appropriate response when locals complain or are victims of crime.

Government has been speaking about regulating artisanal mining but has not done much in this regard. Government in their gazette of 2021 acknowledged that despite policy and legislative interventions and support structures post 1994, the Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining industry continues to experience challenges. The industry remains largely informal ( and thus unlawful), despite an increase in the number of section 27 mining permits that have been issued by the Department.

Mine owners or former mine owners are also to blame for not rehabilitating and securing access to mining tunnels, dumps and the surrounding environment. They need to be brought into the equation and be asked to bear some of the burden of addressing both environmental and social consequences of their operations even where their mining operations have ceased.

The Commission following its investigative hearing on Issues and Challenges in relation to Unregulated Artisanal Underground and Surface Mining Activities in South Africa released a report in 2015 which raised many of the challenges affecting artisanal mining including the absence of enforcement around mine closures and the ambiguous regulation that prevails. The Commission further found that there are limited initiatives in place to deal with challenges related to unregulated ( and thus unlawful) Artisanal Mining in South Africa.

As such, the Commission made several key recommendations to Government to address these challenges including, that more rigorous and consistent monitoring of environmental health issues such as air quality and water quality is undertaken. Furthermore, that those police officers tasked with illegal mining ‘sting operations’ should undergo proper training in order to professionalise their interventions. The Commission also recommended that the State take a firm stance in addressing illegality in the entire mining industry which continue to cause negative environmental and health impacts, and not just Artisanal Mining.

The Commission will engage Government to gauge how far it has gone to implement various recommendations it made on mining challenges. The Commission further calls for positive prosecutions of perpetrators of this gruesome act.


Issued by the South African Human Rights Commission

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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