Xolobeni Human Rights Defender, Nonhle Mbuthuma featured prominently in cases handled by Amnesty International in 2018.

She led the Xolobeni community which has been fighting against mining interests in their area, until they won a court battle last month.

But she still fears for her life.

Amnesty’s report on human rights focused on the increasing role of women and attacks on multilateralism.

The 41-year-old Mbuthuma from Xolobeni is one of the Amadiba Crisis Committee leaders who led her people to a famous court victory, making her one of the leading human rights defenders of 2018.

Mbuthuma says:”Because we were sleeping under the forest, some women were giving early birth, where was the government, they were silent, some of the people were being hacked and shot, and some are paralyzed.”

She fears for her life after the chairperson of the committee was killed but she continues to call on women to lead the fight for human rights.

“Enough is enough, we are sick and tired of being dumping places, when children are sick they dump them on us, when men are sick from mining they dump on us. We need to speak up and say government put our lives first, profit is important, but not more important than life.”

Nonhle’s case is one of many which have highlighted the role of women as human rights’ defenders.

Their causes include the pay gap, reproductive rights, freedom of expression, and defence of natural resources.

But they bear the brunt of gender based violence as many countries fail to investigate and prosecute the crimes.

Amnesty international in SA’s  Deprose Muchena says: “In South Africa we reported that 39 000 cases were reported to police for the period of 2016 to 2017 but in September last the Medical Research Council said only 8.6% resulted in convictions citing a lack of resources and forensic training so as the 16 days are coming to an end we make a call.”

While some women were celebrated others like Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi were disappointed.

Amnesty International had to strip Aung San Suu Kyi of the prestigious Ambassador of Conscience Award but Nonhle Mbuthuma and other women from neighbouring countries continue to shine the light.

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