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

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 weaponry. The investigation, “When arms go astray: Yemen’s deadly new threat of arms diversion to militias,” shows how the UAE has become a major conduit …

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 of human rights over the past year. The human rights group also warns that the actions of “tough guy” world leaders pushing misogynistic, xenophobic and …

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 intimate concert experience in New York City. The event, Write for Rights, is aimed at securing justice for women human rights defenders under threat and …

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 bid to shine a spotlight on brave women who have been harassed, jailed, tortured or even killed for their human rights work. Women continue to …

July 25, 2018 • Press Release

BRICS: Nations Must Put Human Rights First

BRICS nations must put human rights at the forefront of their discussions, said Amnesty International India and South Africa in a joint statement released at the commencement of the 10th BRICS Summit in Johannesburg today. All the BRICS countries face a number of human rights challenges. In Brazil, there are still no answers for the …

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.

October 21, 2016 • Press Release

South Africa: Decision to leave International Criminal Court a ‘deep betrayal of millions of victims worldwide’

Parliament must urgently convene to reconsider the government’s decision to withdraw from the Rome Statute, the founding instrument of the International Criminal Court, Amnesty International said today. “South Africa’s sudden notice to withdraw from the ICC is deeply disappointing. In making this move, the country is betraying millions of victims of the gravest human rights …

March 15, 2016 • Press Release

South Africa: Supreme Court ruling shows there can be no impunity for alleged war criminals

“The Supreme Court of Appeal’s ruling today upholds the rule of law and reinforces the country’s progressive laws aimed at ending impunity for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. It is a stinging rebuke to the government for its failure to abide by its domestic and international obligations to arrest President Bashir and surrender him to the International Criminal Court,” said Netsanet Belay, Amnesty International’s Research and Advocacy Director for Africa.