Human Rights Day 2024 offers a chance to pause, consider, and reconsider

Estimated read time 5 min read

By Samkele Mchunu

As South Africa commemorates 30 years of democracy, it is critical to evaluate the continuous threats to the status of human rights and investigate the degree to which they are upheld, safeguarded, and realized.

The majority of South Africa’s public holidays are very significant historically since they are both a reminder of the difficult past and the difficult road ahead.

One such day that is set aside for introspection and remembrance of those who perished in the 1960 Sharpeville Massacre is Human Rights Day.

Beginning as a nonviolent demonstration against the apartheid laws, the events of March 21, 1960, descended into a horrific massacre as 69 people—including 29 children—were shot by the police, leaving over 180 others injured.

The military battle for freedom from the cruelty and inhumanity of apartheid escalated as a result of this day, which marked a significant turning point in South African history.
The 30th anniversary of South Africa’s democracy in 2024 serves as a sobering reminder of the costs incurred in the pursuit of freedom. This year on March 21, we should take a moment to stop, think, and evaluate the history of human rights since democracy was established.

Black South Africans have suffered the worst human rights breaches since apartheid ended in 1994, remaining marginalized and vulnerable throughout.

The black South African community continues to experience flagrant human rights breaches despite advancements toward equality, highlighting the continuous fight for justice and equality.

As the nation commemorates 30 years of democracy, it is critical to evaluate the continuous threats to the situation of human rights today and investigate the degree to which they are upheld.

In 2024, South Africa will celebrate 30 years of democracy, which serves as a sobering reminder of the price paid for freedom. On March 21 of this year, we ought to pause, consider, and assess the evolution of human rights since the founding of democracy.

Since apartheid ended in 1994, black South Africans have seen the harshest violations of their human rights, continuing to live in marginalization and vulnerability.

Despite progress toward equality, the black community in South Africa is still subjected to egregious violations of human rights, underscoring the ongoing struggle for justice and equality.

As the country celebrates 30 years of democracy, it is imperative to assess the ongoing dangers to the state of human rights in the modern era and look at the extent to which they are protected.

Life and security rights is the most overlooked right by the government which the third quarter of 2023’s crime figures for South Africa reveal that violent crime, particularly murder and attempted murder, is still a major issue for the country’s citizens.

At 45 per 100,000, the nation’s per capita murder rate for 2022–2023 was the highest in 20 years (a 50% rise over 2012–13).

Although the government is investigating various tactics to stop this, “one-size-fits-all” methods of dealing with murder are not likely to work. Reactions must to be modified to address the motivations behind homicide.

Also the entitlement to a suitable place to live which homelessness is a political and ideological issue in South Africa. According to the census data, a total of 17.8 million households were recorded in South Africa in 2022. This includes formal and informal dwellings. The statistics recorded an increase in the number of households living in formal dwellings, from 65.1% in 1996 to 88.5% in 2022.

As a means of social control and oppression, the apartheid architects exploited homelessness, poverty, unemployment, and landlessness among people who were classed as Black, Colored, and Indian. Because of this, Section 26 of the Constitution states that “everyone has the right to have access to adequate housing.”

Moreover, as per the Constitution, the state must “achieve the progressive realisation of this right by taking reasonable legislative and other measures within its available resources.” On the other hand, South Africa’s informal settlements have expanded in both population and size. The government-funded Reconstruction and Development Programme made very little headway.

Rights of Migrants and Refugees

The human rights abuses that Black Africans endure at the hands of their fellow South Africans must be brought up if we are to thoroughly examine the situation of human rights in South Africa. Black Africans are still subjected to abuse, assault, and other forms of racism, which can have fatal repercussions. Afrophobia and xenophobia are diseases that must be eradicated collectively if we are to have a fair and just African continent.

Human rights breaches and humanitarian horrors occurring in other regions of our continent, such as Mali and South Sudan, must be acknowledged as we commemorate Human Rights Day in 2024. And everywhere else, especially in Gaza.

Irrespective of one’s opinions of the factors that led to the current state of affairs in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, everyone can agree that human suffering is intolerable, needless, and ought to end immediately.

Human Rights Day honors the rights guaranteed by our Constitution, which remain just as significant and pertinent today as they did in 1994. The past events and the uncertain future serve as a sobering reminder that, more than ever, our country’s dedication to human rights must be given top priority moving ahead.

The government must put policies in place to address the persistent issue of human rights abuses in the nation, including bolstering legal frameworks, raising public awareness and education levels, and promoting community involvement.

These tactics can greatly lower abuses of human rights and advance a culture of respect for human rights when they are paired with efficient implementation and oversight.

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