Cape Town - The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) says the Western Cape has the highest number of active rights cases in the country.
The commission released its annual trends analysis report (Tar), which indicated that in the 2019/2020 financial year the province had 1 592 complaints.
The SAHRC revealed that while the number of complaints received annually had increased, there had also been an increase in hearings, inquiries and improved success in securing redress for complainants.
Khensani Motileni, head of research and policy for Social Justice Coalition, said the rise of cases was exacerbated by human rights violations in poor black and working-class communities.
Motileni said people would occupy land, because of lack of basic service delivery, which then further led to their homes being demolished unlawfully, without a court order. She said some included the issue of racism.
GOOD Party secretary-general Brett Herron said the high number of complaints in the Western Cape illustrated a worrying trend where over the past eight years, the Western Cape office of the SAHRC had accepted the highest number of new complaints of any province in the country.
Herron said while the complaints could be against a private person, a private company, national and provincial government departments and any municipality, what they must pay attention to was the fact that the Western Cape had the highest number of Section 27 rights complaints.
“These are rights to health care, food, water and social security which means these are complaints against the government – most likely provincial and local government failures to provide access to water,” he said.
Premier Alan Winde said: “We take violations of human rights extremely seriously, and are using the combined resources of the Western Cape government to deliver jobs, safety and well-being to build inclusive, integrated communities in which these violations are not tolerated.”
Winde said it was also important to note that for the period 2019/2022, the Western Cape had the second lowest number of new complaints of any province.
SAHRC chairperson, advocate Bongani Majola, said through the annual Tar, the commission sought to provide a detailed statistical and substantive analysis on how it had advanced its mandate to promote the protection, development and attainment of human rights during the period under review.
Majola said the report provided an overview of the various interventions undertaken by the commission in the delivery of its protection mandate.
He said despite efforts to promote and entrench the protection of human rights in the country, there remained a number of challenges that inhibited the quick and full realisation of such aspirations, including severe resource constraints, high levels of violence, abiding poverty and inequality, and an unstable political environment.
“The interventions referenced in the report nonetheless evince an endeavour by the commission to protect human rights and enhance access to justice in the Republic,” he said.
He said the report highlighted an increase in the number of complaints received by the commission – testament to the fact that its public outreach engagement model was working.
“These increases, however, also impact the total number of complaints the commission can finalise given the concomitant increasing complexity of matters and decreasing resources,” Majola said.
He said the commission remained acutely concerned by the fact that equality-related complaints had remained high and at the top five human rights violations over the past six years.