Prof Pityana calls out the government: ‘SA is a nation in despair’

Professor Barney Pityana, former Unisa vice-chancellor and principal. Picture: Phill Magakoe

Professor Barney Pityana, former Unisa vice-chancellor and principal. Picture: Phill Magakoe

Published Mar 23, 2023


Johannesburg - “Our government must wake up. We can’t have a government that is unable to measure the flooding of people into the country. There are right-wing terrorists being trained in South Africa,” former SA Human Rights Commission chairperson Professor Barney Pityana said during a recent SAHRC lecture.

The National Lotteries Commission board chairperson and former Unisa principal and vice-chancellor delivered the keynote address at a South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) lecture held at Constitution Hill on Thursday, March 16, 2023. The theme of the lecture was “28 years of democracy in South Africa: Prospects for the future”.

He said the country had descended into chaos because the police were being attacked by criminals while trying fight crime. He said it had become unsafe to drive with the windows down in many parts of the country’s urban areas as undocumented immigrants had taken over the cities, suburbs, and towns.

“Nowhere have you ever seen a place where when the police come to raid places for drugs, they are attacked,” he said.

He also decried the level of filth and decay across South African towns and cities.

“It is concerning to see the level of dilapidation and the level of filth in cities across the country … Municipalities are failing to provide basic services; there are potholes; there is no reliable public transport,” he said.

The focus of the SAHRC lecture was purpose of the country’s commemoration of the 63rd anniversary of the Sharpville Massacre. Pityana spoke alongside other panellists who discussed the purpose of Human Rights Day, which was celebrated across the country on Tuesday.

Pityana said the country was a nation in despair and this was due to the many violations of citizens’ rights.

“South Africa is a nation in despair, and its citizens are members of a broken society. We are a nation in despair. It seems progressive, almost psychotic. South Africans are almost depressed about their condition at the moment,” he said.

He added that the recent Gauteng High Court judgment in Pretoria, which nullified a Department of Home Affairs decision to refuse to grant asylum permits to 22 Afghan nationals, had missed an opportunity to develop the law.

The Afghan nationals reported to the Beitbridge port of entry on February 16 and requested asylum transit visas.

“The judge in the Afghanistan case missed an opportunity to develop the law and to help distinguish circumstances when applying the law,” he said.

The Star