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Durban - KwaZulu-Natal has registered 163 race-related complaints with the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) in the 2015/2016 financial year, coming second to Gauteng’s 183 cases.

In 2014/2015, KZN reported 50 cases of the same nature.

According to the commission’s Annual Trends Analysis Report released on Tuesday, Gauteng was leading the pack with the highest number of cases in four consecutive financial years, with KZN coming second in three of those periods (2012/2013; 2013/2014; 2014/2015 and 2015/2016).

For the first three financial years under review, the percentages of equality-related complaints recorded in KZN have increased at a steady pace of between 3% and 6%.

At the end of the 2015/2016 financial year, however, the percentage increased by 10%.

In the financial year under review (2015/2016), the commission received 9238 complaints: Gauteng leading with 1110, followed by the Western Cape with 670 and KZN with 581.

The report revealed that inequality (race-related included) complaints (749), unfair labour practices (440) and ongoing lack of access to health care, water, food, and social security complaints (428) were some of the most violated human rights countrywide.

The report outlines statistics and data on human rights violations received by the commission between 2015 and 2016.

“Alleged infringements of the right to equality comprised an overwhelming majority of the complaints received by the commission. Alleged discrimination on the basis of race, disability and ethnic or social origin constitute the most common grounds of unfair discrimination.

“The commission’s statistics demonstrate that despite the establishment of the constitution of the Republic of South Africa, in 1996 and the plethora of anti-racism laws, racism remains endemic in South Africa,” the report read.

The right to equality remains the right most frequently litigated by the commission in the Equality Courts. Most of these cases involve the use of the “k-word” and other derogatory comments with racial undertones, such as use of the terms “baboon” or “monkey”.

According to the report, 31 of 54 matters litigated by the offices in the nine provinces related to the right to equality and hate speech in the 2015/2016 financial year.

Gabriela Mackay, an analyst at the South African Institute of Race Relations, said it was difficult to pinpoint why, after such a long time, there was still such a high level of racial intolerance in South Africa.

“However, barring incidents of people being outright racists, there is probably still a level of casual racism present in which people do not realise how their behaviour and words can cause offence.

“It is unlikely that the majority of people are outright racists - however, a lack of sensitivity to what may cause offence is no excuse either. It needs to be clear that there is no room in our society for people who hold abhorrent racist views, and a lot still needs to be done to ensure that South Africa becomes the tolerant society it has the promise of being - one that is respectful of all of its people,” Mackay said.

DA provincial leader Zwakele Mncwango said it was worrying that the province had the second- highest number of race-related cases reported to the commission.

“We need to learn and understand each other’s historical and cultural backgrounds and in that way we might find the middle ground to tackle racism. Each race case brings back the past, and given our past as black people, the continued race- related cases could result in hatred among communities. We are all racists and it is upon us as individuals to decide to build a better South Africa,” Mncwango said.

The Active Citizens’ Movement said there was an erosion of social cohesion and slow disappearance of the racial harmony which was evident under Nelson Mandela as the first president of the country.

“We feel that this can be attributed to the decreasing economic standards. Also, the lack of political will by our leaders to ensure social cohesion, because in recent years there has been much focus on problems within government and the ruling party, and less focus on issues of economic development and nation-building. We believe that there must be a concerted effort by government, civil society, NGOs and citizens to address the issue of racism,” the movement’s general-secretary, Yashica Padia, said.

She said racism should not be allowed to fester and the increasing number of cases in KZN must decrease, and people should return to the “values of non-racialism”.

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