Amnesty International South Africa has called on government to honour Nelson Mandela by realising the rights of people; now and always. The organisation joined people from all over the world in paying tribute to the late former President on his birthday, commemorated internationally as Mandela Day.

Executive Director Shenilla Mohamed said in a statement many people living in South Africa are still denied their fundamental human rights, including safe water to regularly wash hands.

She says she’s worried by the continuing lack of access to basic human rights.

“Many people living in South Africa are still denied their fundamental human rights; including safe water to regularly wash hands, a necessity in the fight against the spread of COVID-19. As we reach Day 114 of lockdown, Amnesty International South Africa is still receiving reports of communities without access to clean, sufficient and reliable water, despite government promises to deliver water to all,” Mohamed says.

The organisation also says it received reports last week of police opening fire on protesters in the Eastern Cape who were protesting for access to water.

The organisation rebuked this by quoting Mandela.

“It thirsts for the situation where those who are entitled by law to carry arms, as the forces of national security and law and order, will not turn their weapons against the citizens simply because the citizens assert that equality, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are fundamental human rights…”

In the video below, Amnesty International speaks against the use of excessive force on protesters:

Amnesty International says excessive use of force can never be tolerated. It has also called on government to recognise that many South Africans still lack access to basic human rights.

“This is a life or death situation, and we call on the government to recognise that many people in South Africa are still denied their human rights, such as the right to water, even amidst a pandemic. By ensuring that these rights are realised without delay, not only now but always, the government can truly honour Nelson Mandela’s legacy and his vision for South Africa.”

The organisation says the government is obligated by national and international laws and standards to deliver on the right to water.

It says the national government, acting through the minister for Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation; must ensure that water is protected, used, developed, conserved, managed and controlled in a sustainable and equitable manner, for the benefit of all people as mandated by the constitution.

In the video below, Ahmed Kathrada Foundation’s Neeshan Balton talks about keeping Mandela’s legacy alive: