“COVID-19 highlighted govt’s need to address disparity of human rights in SA”

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As the country marks Human Rights Day on Sunday, Southern Africa Director at Human Rights Watch’s Africa Division, Dewa Mavhinga, says the coronavirus pandemic has further highlighted government’s need to address the disparity of human rights in South Africa.

The pandemic saw the country go into a hard lockdown that exacerbated the already dire economic circumstances of many South Africans.

Many lost their jobs and relied on relief measures from government.

Educational institutions were forced to operate on a virtual basis which in some cases was not possible due to a lack of resources, especially in rural areas.

Mavhinga says basic human rights include access to adequate healthcare and education for all.

“Access to adequate food during lockdowns, access to sufficient health it is not always equal access. Because of cost implications, access to education during lockdown including those that might not afford including learners with disabilities.”

“We have seen that previously, South Africa has had over half a million students with disabilities, who are out of the school system and who have not had this fundamental right to education during the COVID-19 pandemic. It has been exacerbated … this is an area that the authorities need to continue to address,” explains Mavhinga.

Below is Dewa Mavhinga’s full interview:

Meanwhile, in recent weeks, students across the country took to the streets over their unhappiness over the refusal by some universities to allow students with historical debt to register for the 2021 academic year.

Students have threatened a complete shutdown of university campuses across the country if their demands are not met.

‘SAHRC deeply concerned by police conduct’

During the protests, six students were arrested, appeared in court and were released on bail.

The police came under heavy criticism over their conduct during the student protests.

The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) in Gauteng, added its voice in expressing its concerns about police conduct when dealing with protests.

SAHRC’s Advocate André Hurtley Gaum:

A bystander shot dead during the student protest

35-year-old Mthokozisi Ntumba was killed allegedly by police during a protest by Wits University students in Braamfontein.

It is alleged that Ntumba had just visited a local clinic when police allegedly shot him dead.

Two student journalists were also shot and wounded and were admitted to the Milpark Hospital.

SAHRC chairperson in Gauteng Buang Jones visited the scene to conduct oversights as a group of students continue to protest.

The video reports on the shooting incident:


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