South Africa


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.

South Africa Newsroom

June 6, 2021 • Report

Governments Must Stop Conniving with Fossil Fuel Industries to Burn Our Rights

The world’s richest governments are effectively condemning millions of people to starvation, drought and displacement through their continued support of the fossil fuel industry, Amnesty International said today. The organization’s new policy briefing offers a damning assessment of global failures to protect human rights from climate change, and outlines how human rights law can help hold governments and companies to account.

December 16, 2020 • Press Release

Governments and Police Must Stop Using COVID-19 Pandemic as Pretext for Abuse

Abusive policing and excessive reliance on law enforcement to implement COVID-19 response measures have violated human rights and in some instances made the health crisis worse, Amnesty International said today.

May 6, 2020 • Press Release

Governments in Southern Africa must move beyond politics in distribution of COVID-19 food aid

Millions of people face the threat of starvation and are already in a precarious situation as they have now lost their income as a result of lockdown regimes that are currently in place to combat the spread of COVID-19. Hunger should not be used for political campaigning. Anyone who does not have the means to make a living must be provided with food regardless of their perceived political affiliation.

December 9, 2019 • Press Release

Generation Z Ranks Climate Change Highest as Vital Issue of our Time in Amnesty International Survey

Climate change leads as one of the most important issues facing the world, according to a major new survey of young people published by Amnesty International today to mark Human Rights Day.

September 5, 2019 • Press Release

Gender-Based Violence and Femicide Offenders in South Africa Must Face Justice

In response to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s address to the nation and hundreds who had gathered in Cape Town to protest against soaring gender-based violence and femicide rates in the country, Shenilla Mohamed, Executive Director of Amnesty International South Africa, said:

September 4, 2019 • Press Release

Years of Impunity for Xenophobic Crimes Driving the Latest Attacks in South Africa

The ongoing and escalating attacks against refugees, asylum seekers and migrants, and looting of foreign owned shops in South Africa, is a direct consequence of years of impunity and failures in the criminal justice system that have left this vulnerable group exposed and unprotected, Amnesty International said today.

February 5, 2019 • Press Release

Yemen: UAE recklessly supplying militias with windfall of Western arms

An open source investigation published by Amnesty International today highlights a growing danger in Yemen’s conflict as the United Arab Emirates (UAE) recklessly arms militias with a range of advanced …

December 9, 2018 • Report

Oppressive, sexist policies galvanize bold fight for women’s rights in 2018

Women activists around the world have been at the forefront of the battle for human rights in 2018, Amnesty International said today as it launched its review on the state …

November 30, 2018 • Press Release

Amnesty and Sofar Sounds partner for Write for Rights concert and letter writing event

On Saturday, December 8, human rights organization Amnesty International USA in partnership with live music events startup Sofar Sounds will host a powerful evening of collective action along with an …

November 28, 2018 • Press Release

Amnesty International launches world’s biggest human rights campaign

Women human rights defenders around the world are facing unprecedented levels of abuse, intimidation and violence, said Amnesty International as it launched its global Write for Rights campaign, in a …