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SAHRC says financial constraints are hampering its work

16 March 2022

The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) says it has seen an increase in complaints, but financial constraints make it hard to deal with them timeously.   

On Wednesday, the commission released its annual trends analysis report, which indicated that in the 2019/2020 financial year, there was a 13% increase in the number of complaints received.  

"We are very reliant on the number of warm bodies in our organisation. When people come to complain to us, we would require somebody to take down the statement, probably a legal advisor, to assess the legality… or whether the case has merit. If we need to intervene, that requires warm bodies again - whether in litigation or trying to mediate a solution to a complaint. Given the fact that we have to restrict and limit our personnel costs, this clearly affects our operations."

This was echoed by CEO Tseliso Thipanyane, who said:The funding does affect us… we have over 60 million South Africans, nine provincial offices, and about 1 180 staff members. So, we can't be at every corner of the country.

Thipanyane added that they also have a bit of a backlog in the numbers of complaints they have received and are able to resolve within the financial year.

"Those are some of the issues that we are grappling with, and we are trying to see how best we can use our mandate to protect people from human rights violations in a much more effective manner within the financial constraints. Of course, we can always do with more money, but we must take into account that the county is facing financial difficulties."

SAHRC spokesperson Gushwell Brooks said the 13% increase in the number of cases reported might be partly due to the increased advocacy work the organisation was doing.  

Of the 6 092 cases reported, 75% were successfully investigated and concluded. The majority of the complaints (827) were related to equality, mostly race-based discrimination.

Healthcare, food, water and social justice had 702 complaints, while more than 600 cases were related to just administrative action - most based on concerns about non-responsiveness and delays in the provision of services by public bodies.  

Brooks said the commission was also involved in various litigation in the reporting year.  There are currently 69 cases across the country that are still before the courts.  

The commission has held different investigative inquiries. This includes the Gauteng inquiry into allegations of racial discrimination by medical aid schemes and the national inquiry into violent attacks targeted at non-national long-distance truck drivers.

Source: News 24

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