Activists and Right2Know campaigners picket against human rights abuse in South Africa on Human Rights Day during a rally in Durban, Friday, 21 March 2014. Picture: SAPA stringer

Johannesburg - Despite the promise of a new democratic country, people of South Africa still experience human rights violations, United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa said on Friday.

“In recent times, we find ourselves on a slippery slope of human rights abuses that we had hoped to never see again,” he said in a speech prepared for delivery.

Holomisa was addressing a crowd of people at a Human Rights Day commemoration event in Gxwalibomvu in the Eastern Cape.

Human Rights Day commemorates the Sharpeville massacre in 1960

when police shot dead 69 anti-apartheid protesters.

Holomisa said that the police's current violent approach to people was similar to the approach taken during apartheid.

“Instead of a government listening to the complaints of the people it sends the police, which has adopted a doctrine of 'shoot first, ask questions later'.”

He referred to cases such as that of Andries Tatane, who was allegedly killed by police during a service delivery protest in Ficksburg in the Free State in April 2011.

He also referred to the Marikana shooting, where 44 people were killed during wage-related protests in the North West in August 2012.

“We think of the countless incidents where our police services fired at communities who merely used their constitutional right to speak freely and to demonstrate.”

Holomisa also brought attention to Public Protector Thuli Madonsela's Nkandla report, which found that President Jacob Zuma and his family had unduly benefited from R215 million security upgrades to the property, and where outstanding work was estimated at R36 million.

“Yes we agree, a president is entitled to certain privileges, but does that include a tuck shop? Homes for his family and tunnels and kraals for cattle?” he asked.

“Do you think this is right in a country were far too many of our people live in abject poverty?”

He said that a forensic audit should be conducted to follow the paper trail to see what the monies paid over to Mr Minenhle Makhanya were used for.

He accused Makhanya, the architect responsible for the building of Zuma's private home in Nkandla, KwaZulu-Natal, of inflating the costs of his services.

Holomisa also accused African National Congress members of “covering-up” for Zuma and said that their insinuation that Madonsela's report was biased was inaccurate.

“Their condescending response and insinuation that the public protector may have political motives, demonstrates their sheer disdain towards this crucial organ of our constitutional democracy.”

He described the report as “credible, meticulous” and going to the heart of the problem that engulfs South Africa.

“We are certain that the Nkandla scandal is the tip of the iceberg in a country that suffers from glaring mismanagement, maladministration and corruption,” he said.

Holomisa urged opposition party leaders and civil society to “stand together so that the public protector can in turn be protected from the hyenas howling for her blood”.

“When you go to the polls on 7 May… think... it is time for change, so that we can have a better future for ourselves and our children.”