SAHRC to probe causes of July unrest and its impact on human rights
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DURBAN – THE South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) has announced that it will be holding a three-week National Investigative Hearing into the July 2021 this year, starting from November.
The Commission said the aim of the hearing is to investigate the causes of the unrest and the impact of the unrest on human rights.
It said that the hearing is expected to begin on November 15 and is planned to be heard over a three week period until December 3.
During the month of July 2021, civil unrest and looting broke out and swept through Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.
At the time, it was understood that the unrest was triggered by the Constitutional Court judgment of June 29, 2021 in which the court found former President Jacob Zuma guilty of contempt of court.
Zuma was then sentenced to a period of 15 months imprisonment and released on medical parole earlier this month.
According to the government, the death toll in KZN was 251 while in Gauteng, 42 murders were being investigated by the police and 37 inquest dockets had been opened.
The SAHRC’s communications co-ordinator Gushwell Brooks, said during the unrest, the police and other law enforcement authorities drew criticism for their alleged lack of preparedness and lack of visibility in the affected areas.
This led many communities to take to the streets to protect their neighbourhoods and businesses.
As a result, there were allegations that in certain areas, there were incidents of excessive use of force, racial profiling, assaults, arson, and killings, said Brooks.
Brooks said under section 184(2) of the Constitution, they are empowered to investigate and to report on the observance of human rights and to take steps to secure appropriate redress where human rights have been violated.
According to Brooks, the Commission will investigate the causes of the unrest, the causes of the alleged racially motivated attacks and killings, and the causes of the apparent lapses in law enforcement by state security agencies, particularly the SAPS and the role of private security companies in the unrest.
Furthermore, he said the SAHRC will also investigate the social, economic, spatial and political factors prevalent in the various affected areas and the extent to which these played a role in the unrest.
“The Commission hereby invites submissions from those who have information that can assist in this investigation. It will accept both written and oral submissions from identified government departments, state entities, business chambers, communities and interested parties for the purposes of the inquiry,” said Brooks.
Brooks added interested parties who wish to make submissions, may do so by contacting their provincial office either via email to [email protected] and WhatsApp on the Gauteng Provincial Office number: 082 059 6520
Written submissions to the Gauteng Provincial Office can be sent to: Private Bag x2700, Houghton, 2041.
Written submissions to the Kwa-Zulu Natal Provincial Office can be sent to: PO Box 1456, Durban, 4000.