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 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 …

January 31, 2017 • Report

South Africa: Women and girls risk unsafe abortions after being denied legal services

Women and girls risk unsafe abortions that can lead to serious health complications, and even death, due to persistent barriers to legal abortion services, according to research by Amnesty International and the Women’s Health Research Unit of the School of Public Health and Family Medicine at the University of Cape Town.

February 18, 2016 • Report

Amnesty International State of the World 2015-2016

International protection of human rights is in danger of unravelling as short-term national self-interest and draconian security crackdowns have led to a wholesale assault on basic freedoms and rights, warned Amnesty International as it launched its annual assessment of human rights around the world. “Your rights are in jeopardy: they are being treated with utter contempt by many governments around the world,” said Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International.

February 25, 2015 • Report

State of the World 2014/2015

This has been a devastating year for those seeking to stand up for human rights and for those caught up in the suffering of war zones. Governments pay lip service to the importance of protecting civilians. And yet the world's politicians have miserably failed to protect those in greatest need. Amnesty International believes that this can and must finally change.

October 8, 2014 • Report

Struggles for Maternal Health: Barriers to Antenatal Care in South Africa

Too many women and girls are dying needlessly in South Africa during pregnancy or shortly after giving birth. One of the reasons is that they delay accessing antenatal care.

June 24, 2013 • Report

Making Love a Crime: Criminalization of Same-Sex Conduct in Sub-Saharan Africa

This report provides an analysis of the legal environment and wider context of human rights violations against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) individuals in sub-Saharan Africa. Recent years have seen increasing reports of people being harassed, marginalized, discriminated against and attacked because of their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.

May 23, 2013 • Report

Annual Report: South Africa 2013

Republic of South Africa Head of state and government Jacob G. Zuma Police use of excessive force against protesters, suspected extrajudicial executions and torture triggered national concern and some steps …

June 27, 2011 • Report

Annual Report: South Africa 2011

Head of state and government: Jacob G. Zuma Death penalty: abolitionist for all crimes Population: 50.5 million Life expectancy: 52 years Under-5 mortality (m/f): 79/64 per 1,000 Adult literacy: 89 …

March 19, 2011 • Report

Annual Report: South Africa 2010

Head of state and government Jacob G. Zuma (replaced Kgalema Motlanthe in May) Death penalty abolitionist for all crimes Population 50.1 million Life expectancy 51.5 years Under-5 mortality (m/f) 79/64 …