CIVICUS

MonitorTracking civic space

South Africa

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Last updated on 12.11.2019 at 11:33

South Africa Overview

In March human rights defender Sikhosipi Rhadebe was murdered by unknown persons, having worked for years to advance the cause of the Xolobeni community, whose livelihoods are negatively affected by mining operations in the Eastern Cape province.

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The Civic Space Developments

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Protesters march against gender based violence

Protesters march against gender based violence

Protesters in Cape town marched outside the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) where the World Economic Forum was happening to protest against gender based violence. In Johannesburg, women gathered and protested in the streets of Johannesburg following the release of the South African Police Service's (SAPS) crime statistics, which revealed that 2 771 women had been murdered in the past fiscal year. Residents of Henley Village in Pietermaritzburg took to the streets to protest against water scarcity,

Assembly

On 21st May 2019 it was reported that hundreds of residents of Henley Village in Pietermaritzburg took to the streets to protest against water scarcity, which they said had been going on for two years. The protesters barricaded the main road using bricks and burning tyres and vowed to block the road until the shortage was addressed. Police however responded by dispersing the crowd using rubber bullets and teargas, leaving two protesters injured. Addressing the protesters, Msunduzi municipality mayor, Themba Njilo promised to provide two water tankers as a temporary solution. The residents however dismissed that proposal, adding that two water tankers were inadequate to serve the whole community.

One resident, Mary Sishi, 60, said:

"I should be at home but I can't let others fight for me. I have a tap at home but it's been dry for years."

On 4th September 2019, protesters in Cape town marched outside the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) where the World Economic Forum was happening to protest against gender based violence. The protesters were heard chanting ‘Where is Cyril? Where is Cyril?’

Police used stun grenades and water cannon to disperse the protesters who carried placards with the names of murdered University of Cape Town student Uyinene Mrwetyana, Meghan Cremer whose body was found in Philippi, and Lynette Volschenk who was dismembered in her own home.

Speaking on the sidelines of the protest, Dr Olive Shisana, the chairperson of the interim committee on gender-based violence and femicide said that more effective efforts need to be made to prevent the assaults and not just respond to victims. She added that several provinces were being consulted over a proposed strategy to prevent violence, and costing was being done.

On 13th September 2019, women gathered and protested in the streets of Johannesburg following the release of the South African Police Service's (SAPS) crime statistics, which revealed that 2,771 women had been murdered in the past fiscal year while 36,507 others reported cases on gender based violence in the same period. The protesters, who started gathering at 03:00 am at the Johannesburg Stock Exchange in Sandton, Johannesburg, called on the government to introduce initiatives that will protect women against gender based violence.

Association in South Africa

South African law allows for many types of NGOs to be formed, from community-based organisations to trusts and non-profit organisations.

South African law allows for many types of NGOs to be formed, from community-based organisations to trusts and non-profit organisations. Registration is not mandatory, however many groups choose to register formally as non-profits under the Non-Profit Organisations (NPO) Act 1997. Registration as an NPO allows access to public funding (through the national lottery for instance) and tax exemption status. As of 2012, it was reported that over 80,000 NPOs had been registered. Civil society has criticised government for being too quick to deregister organisations due to non-compliance when they have not established the necessary appeals and arbitration mechanisms. Civil society has also criticised a proposed government policy on NPOs to replace the current system with a new body designed to improve the quality of reporting and compliance. A draft law due for release in 2016 may address these concerns.

Peaceful assembly in South Africa

There is a culture of protest in South Africa with thousands of protests taking place each year; most are peaceful and focused on local issues.

There is a culture of protest in South Africa with thousands of protests taking place each year; most are peaceful and focused on local issues. Some however turn into confrontations with the South African Police Service (SAPS), who have been criticised for using excessive force in dealing with demonstrations it perceives as unruly or destructive. One report describes how police killed four peaceful protestors in the first three weeks of 2014. Impunity for police officers involved in the killing of protestors heightens fears that this heavy-handed approach to quashing protests has received political endorsement. Police violence during protests, therefore, is likely to continue. No officers have been convicted for the killings of Andries Tatane, Mido Macia or the 34 miners killed at Marikana on 16 August 2012. All three of those incidents were caught on video and widely circulated.