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South Africa Human Rights

National and provincial elections are scheduled for May 7, 2014, and Amnesty International will monitor the human rights conditions surrounding the elections.

On August 16, 2012, the policing authorities deployed armed units to crush a mine workers' strike at the LONMIN Marikana platinum mine. The police opened fire on the miners killing 34, in what they claimed was self-defense. The scale and visibility of the killings caused a national crisis. A commission established by President Zuma found the police falsified and withheld documents and gave fabricated accounts of the events. Amnesty International urges the government to ensure the Commission can carry out its work on a completely level playing field, supporting the full participation of all parties.

Hate-motivated violence, in particular violence perpetrated against lesbian women, continues to cause public concern and fear. The government and civil society "Task Team," set up in 2011 to prevent further incidents, made slow progress. In December, Justice Ministry officials publicly condemned hate crimes and gender-based violence as an assault on the right to life and human dignity and acknowledged the "dire need" for public education to combat prejudice based on sexual or gender identity. One specific case on which Amnesty International has been working heavily involves the rape and murder of a young 24-year-old woman Noxolo Nogwaza. It is believed her assailants targeted her due to her sexual orientation. Although her murder took place more than two years ago, the individual(s) responsible for her death have yet to be brought to justice.

Unlawful, prolonged detentions and violence against migrants as well as individuals in need of international protection remains a concern of Amnesty International. Numerous incidents of looting and destruction of shops and displacement of recognized refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants were documented. Police response is frequently slow and in some cases witnesses reported that police were complicit in the violence. In Limpopo province, police forcibly closed at least 600 small businesses run by asylum-seekers and refugees, as part of operation "Hard Stick". The indiscriminate police raids took place without warning and involved the seizure of property. Some asylum-seekers and refugees were subjected to xenophobic verbal abuse, detention and charged or fined for running their businesses.

High levels of sexual violence against women persist in many regions of South Africa. There were 48,003 cases of rape reported to the police from April 2011 to March 2012. Even more devastating is that too many cases of sexual violence go unreported. There were renewed calls for the revival of specialized sexual offences courts to address impunity for these crimes. Amnesty has a long record of reporting on violence against women in South Africa and remains concerned with the continued levels of violence throughout the country.

Access to antiretroviral medication for people living with HIV continued to expand, with two million people on treatment by October 2012. Despite these advances, high levels of HIV-infection among pregnant women remain a concern for maternal mortality rates. The Department of Ministry reported delays in access to antenatal care and antiretroviral treatment as a major reason for maternal mortality.

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