“Human Rights Day (21 March) presents an opportunity, every year, to celebrate human rights, highlight a specific issue, and advocate for the full enjoyment of all human rights by everyone everywhere.”
This year, we have much to reflect upon.
The South African Police Service (SAPS) is making international headlines again following the torture and subsequent death of a Mozambican national in Daveyton.
Earlier, we had the Marikana blood-bath and the murder of Andries Tatane in the Free State. These are the high-profile cases.
But what about the many cases where ordinary citizens get abused and tortured by those in uniforms and yes, they call themselves “law enforcers”.
The SAPS has a serious problem and it requires urgent intervention at the highest level.
A call has now been made for a judicial commission of enquiry into the police to ascertain the general cause/s of the police conduct.
I don’t think there is a need for a commission. It’s simply lawlessness of the worst form and an abuse of power by SAPS members. They must be treated as criminals and the law must come down hard on them.
When former police commissioner, General Bheki Cele, “militarized” the ranks shortly after he took office, it was the start of a “skop, skiet and donder” approach.
And Cele’s controversial “shoot to kill” comments did the SAPS little good.
The human rights of every citizen need to be protected.
The police leadership needs to reinforce the importance of this basic right amongst its members right away. Let every cop adopt the code of conduct once again.
There are without a doubt pockets of excellence in the police. We must continue to support and praise police officials who uphold the code of conduct and serve the community.
However, it’s not going to be easy for the SAPS to restore public confidence within days. But, they must start immediately.
As we mark Human Rights Month, let’s not forget the thousands of people who are raped and sexually violated.
On Friday, millions of school children across South Africa took a stand by adopting aStopRape pledge.
This the Life Orientation (LO) curriculum will be amended to include issues of rape, sexual and gender violence, bullying and other social ills.
This is in line with the Department of Basic Education and Lead SA’s Bill of Responsibilities (BOR) initiative.
Never before has South Africans stood united like now against rape and sexual violence. We need to keep the momentum going and we need to ensure there is no violation of any human rights.
Your body belongs to you and to you alone.
Irrespective of who the culprit/s are, speak out.
Whether the abuser is a headmaster, educator, police officer, family member, neighbour or friend, break your silence.
You have rights and it’s your responsibility to report anyone who infringes them.