SAHRC condemns the violence and destruction to property during protests and calls on authorities to deliver
The South African Human Rights Commission (the SAHRC or the Commission) recognises the legitimate concerns of the community of Imizamo Yethu, relating to housing as well as their right to protest as guaranteed in section 17 of the Bill of Rights, Chapter 2, of the Constitution.
The Commission is concerned that this community’s concerns are far too common place throughout South Africa, with many other communities receiving poor service delivery, which results in denial of access to essential socio-economic rights.
With protests fuelled by a lack of sanitation, water, housing, electricity and many other such basic services, the Commission strongly urges government at local, provincial and national level to urgently and proactively address the concerns of communities and to deliver as constitutionally mandated.
However the Commission emphasises that the right to protest does not extend to the burning of people’s private homes or state property. The Commission therefore condemns the violence and destruction to property that has occurred in protests in Imizamo Yethu community as well as other communities.
The Commission welcomes the intervention by Minister of Police, Fikile Mbalula, who met with community leaders late on Sunday 23rd July 2017, after violent protests in the area resulted in the death of a 19-year-old man. We however, hope that the intervention by the Minister, as well as South African Police Service (SAPS), leads to the return of peace to the besieged community.
The Commission encourages community leaders to continue to show leadership in calming communities and by assisting these communities ventilate their concerns through legal, peaceful means.
With protest action occurring on a daily basis in South Africa, protests with legitimate and grave concerns, the Commission calls on the relevant authorities to address the concerns of citizens before these escalate to violence. On the other hand, the Constitution and Bill of Rights have been designed in such a way that protests and concerns of communities can be ventilated through peaceful, effective and legal means.
Source: Government of South Africa