South Africa Human Rights
South Africa continues to experience unacceptably high levels of sexual violence. Last year the South African police reported over 64,000 sexual offences including 48,000 cases of rape. Such attacks often stem from pervasive discriminatory attitudes and practices, particularly from male partners, against women in South African society. The government, communities, families and schools have a collective responsibility to spread public awareness and promote men’s respect for women’s right to equality and sexual autonomy.
Amnesty is concerned with the push throughout much of Africa, including in South Africa, toward criminalization on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity. The recent attacks on members of the LGBT community demonstrate the need for immediate action to address the growing inequality for lesbian and gay individuals living within the region. Amnesty International has worked specifically on the 2011 case of Noxolo Nogwaza. Ms. Nogwaza was murdered in South Africa on her way home from a night out with friends. Her attacker(s) raped, repeatedly beat and stabbed the twenty-four year old lesbian, apparently because of her sexual orientation, before dumping her body in a drainage ditch. A year after her death, no progress has been made in the investigation into her murder and her killer(s) remain at large.
For additional information and to demonstrate your support in solidarity with Noxolo, please click here.
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In regard to the issue of violence directed at those seeking asylum within South Africa, Amnesty is concerned about the continued incidences of police raids taking place without warning and involve seizing trading stock and forcibly closing the premises. The discriminatory practices are pushing many asylum seekers further into destitution and poverty. When seeking police intervention, asylum-seekers and refugees have reported being subjected to xenophobic verbal abuse, detention in police cells, and charged or fined for running their business. Government officials have committed to looking into the issues raised, although there has been no change to the situation on the ground and unfortunately forced closures of shops run by asylum seekers and refugees continue.
For further information, please see South Africa: Shop Raids Jeopardise Safety of Refugees.
Amnesty International continues to be concerned about the misuse of force by police officers. Amnesty has been documenting an increasing trend by police to resort to excessive force in response to social protests and ordinary crime for nearly ten years. Torture and other ill-treatment, primarily in context of criminal investigations, have become habitual practices. The issue peaked in August 2012 when police officers opened fire on miners during a protest, which resulted in the shooting of 34 individuals. Due to the gravity of the incident, its longer term consequences and the recurring use of excessive force by police, there should be judicial oversight of any official investigation with public reporting back of the findings and recommendations for urgent implementation. Of recent concern, was the footage of South African police tying a Mozambican man to the back of a police vehicle and dragging him down the road has been making headlines across the world. Amnesty International urges the South African government to make a public commitment to ensure that the police stop the use of excessive force and deliberate targeted killings.
For further information, please see Brutal Reign by South African Police Claims another Victim.