Human rights

Human rights

  • ANC: Celebrating 100 Years of Existence

    The African National Congress (ANC) held its 100th birthday celebrations from 6-8 January 2011 in Mangaung, Free State, where it was formed in 1912. The celebrations featured events which were attended by among others, sitting and former heads of state, ANC members and supporters from all over South Arica and the alliance partners.

    Below are the messages of support to mark the ANC’s centenary:

    The event also saw former President, Thabo Mbeki, and ANC veteran Ahmed Kathrada, handing over the centenary flaming torch to President Zuma. The torch will be taken around the Free State and to other provinces across the country, when the ANC takes its centenary programme countrywide.

    We invite NGO Pulse readers to share their views about the ANC’s centenary celebrations and what they mean to our 17-year old democracy. Comments and articles should be e-mailed to

  • Youth Dialogue

    Organisation of African Youth (OAYouth

    Organisation of African Youth (OAYouth) was formed in 2009, conforming to the provisions of African Youth Charter, which was adopted by the African Union. The Charter defines African youth as people between the ages of 15 and 35. Membership to OAYouth is open to individuals and youth organisations, that are working to empower youth on any issues.

    The youth voices in South Africa are fragmented and divided by race, religion and especially controversy-magnetic political platforms. As such, young people generally do not have a cohesive neutral platform for dialogue. In certain circumstances South Africa fails to answer: Who speaks for the youth?

    OAYouth, in partnership with students associations at University of Witwatersrand, is hosting a Youth Dialogue on 18 August 2012 in Johannesburg.

    The symposium will be attended by over 60 young people, youth organisations and students leaders.

    The event is aimed at discussing the following question - ‘how do developmental trajectories have to look like in order to achieve social equality in South Africa? What is the role of youth to make it happen?’

    These and other policy issues such as nationalisation, land reform, unemployment and entrepreneurship development, will strengthen a more coherent voice of youth and their willingness to partner with developmental stakeholders to make South Africa a great nation in Africa and the world.

    For more information contact:

    Mordekai Shumba
    President Organisation of African Youth
    Mobile: 073 445 4355

    For more about the Organisation of African Youth, refer to

    Event start date: 
    Event end date: 
    Event venue: 
    FNB Auditorium 101 - West Campus, University of Witwatersrand
    Event type: 
  • Third Justice Symposium

    Helen Suzman Foundation, Open Society Foundation for South Africa

    The Helen Suzman Foundation, in association with the Open Society Foundation for South Africa, is hosting the ‘Third Justice Symposium: The Appointment and Accountability of Judges’ on 16 May 2012 in Johannesburg.

    Sir Jeffrey Jowell of the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law will deliver the keynote address.

    Former Chief Justice Pius Langa and legal commentator, Carmel Rickard, will respond.

    Time: 18h00

    RSVP: Tim Kenny, E-mail:

    For more about the Helen Suzman Foundation, refer to

    For more about the Open Society Foundation for South Africa, refer to

    Event start date: 
    Event venue: 
    The Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS) Auditorium 26 Melville Road, Illovo, Johannesburg
    Event type: 
  • Restrictions on NGOs Undermining Human Rights – UNHCR

    The United Nations (UN) says that recent moves in a number of countries to limit the freedom of NGOs are seriously undermining human rights.

    The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, urges governments to revise proposed laws that would restrict their capacity to operate independently and effectively.

    “Civil society - including NGOs, trade unions, human rights defenders, academics, journalists, bloggers and others – plays an absolutely crucial role in ensuring that human rights are protected in individual states,” explains Pillay.

    To read the article titled, “Restrictions on NGOs worldwide undermining human rights,” click here.

  • NGO Tackles Rising Child Labour

    A Zimbabwean NGO is working with local communities to eradicate rising child labour in the country, managing through a recent pilot project to remove some 350 children from the fields back into the classroom.

    In an effort to promote what it calls child labour free zones, the Coalition Against Child Labour in Zimbabwe, says it has placed affected children in ‘bridge schools’ where they are housed temporarily.

    National coordinator, Pascal Masocha, has been quoted as saying that a 2007 survey identified Masvingo province as the worst affected, prompting them to set up a pilot project in Chiredzi district.

    To read the article titled, “Zimbabwe NGO tackles rising child labour in farming communities,” click here.

    VOA News
  • Closure of Port Elizabeth Refugee Reception Office

    We are shocked, distressed and disappointed over the Department of Home Affairs’ abrupt and unexpected decision to permanently close the (Port Elizabeth) Refugee Reception Office at the end of November. As organisations intimately involved in the protection and support of refugees and asylum seekers, we find it completely unacceptable that all stakeholders were not consulted. We were only informed late last week that no new applications for asylum would be accepted after Friday, 21 October 2011.

    There are approximately 800 Somalis and Ethiopians who have been waiting weeks, and in some case months, to have their applications registered. It is a disgrace that these already traumatised refugees and asylum seekers should be treated with such disregard. To close the office down so suddenly, and without proper notice or consultation, shows a complete lack of compassion and respect for the basic rights of our most vulnerable members of society.   

    Home Affairs claims that the decision was made partly because “Port Elizabeth is not located strategically to assist people who want to apply for asylum.” But many thousands of refugees from the Eastern Cape as well as the Free State, Northern Cape and southern Cape are serviced by the PE centre. New applicants and existing permit holders from all of these provinces will now be forced to travel very long distances, and at great expense, to Durban, Cape Town, Pretoria or Musina to have their permits issued or extended. It will put unbearable pressure on these already overburdened refugee reception offices who have been struggling to cope since the closure of the Johannesburg Office.    

    The department also claims that the PE office needs to be closed because of “on-going dissatisfaction expressed by the local business community.” But like us, the department has been fully aware for more than a year of the court action undertaken by businesses around the Sidon Road centre. They have also known for some time that their lease was due to expire, so claiming that they missed the deadline to inform the Department of Public Works is simply not an acceptable excuse.   

    The department urgently needs to explain how they intend letting applicants and permit holders know about which refugee reception office their file will be sent to, and what guarantees they intend putting in place to ensure that these files will not be misplaced. Also, if the files will only be sent to the other offices in the last week of November, what guarantees are there that those people whose permits expire during the first week of December, will be given an appointment at the other offices before their permit expires?

    In light of all these unanswered questions, we call on the Department of Home Affairs to grant a two-week extension in order to give the PE Refugee Reception Office and other stakeholders sufficient time to deal with the large numbers of new applicants still waiting for assistance. We also ask that a temporary space be found for the centre as a matter of urgency, and clear guidelines be given as to how the files will be transferred to the other offices. We also call on the department to communicate these changes clearly with all their clients and inform them fully, and in good time, about how and when their files will be removed and transferred.


    For more information contact:

    Linton Harmse
    Refugee Rights Centre, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University         
    Tel: 041 504 1310
    Mobile: 073 176 2239

    Michael Bendle
    Project for Conflict Resolution and Development
    Tel: 041 581 2414
    Mobile: 083 455 7569

    Dino Jilley
    Somali Association of South Africa (Eastern Cape)
    Mobile: 073 500 8700

    David Stephens
    Programme Manager
    HIVOS Eastern Cape Refugee and Migrant Programme (Eastern Cape)
    Tel: 041 581 2414
    Mobile: 083 225 1019

    Vuyo Msizi
    Social Change Assistance Trust
    Tel: 041 581 2414
    Mobile: 084 242 2012

    Alexa Lane
    Provincial Director
    Black Sash (Eastern Cape)
    Tel: 041 487 3288
    Mobile: 084 572 1467

    Notes to Editors

    Stakeholders involved in the extension of services to refugees and asylum seekers were invited to a meeting at the Port Elizabeth Refugee Reception Office (RRO) on 17 October 2011 to a formal briefing session surrounding the permanent closure of the RRO. This meeting was postponed while stakeholders were waiting in the reception area at the RRO at 11h00 on the 17 October 2011. No reasons were given for the postponement, except for a statement made by Baxter that he had been informed by Lusu, the acting Provincial Manager, to postpone due to a more urgent matter arising, and that the stakeholders should contact her office for further information.

    Linton Harmse contacted Lusu and was informed that she would be in Port Elizabeth on Wednesday, 19 October 2011, to deal with these matters and would be in contact with the stakeholders at this time. Stakeholders were called to a meeting on Thursday, 20 October 2011, at noon at the Department of Home Affairs building in Port Elizabeth at which they were informed by Lusu that the RRO would be permanently closing on 30 November 2011, and would discontinue all registration of new applications for asylum from 21 October 2011. A formal letter dated 7 October 2011 and signed by Mkuseli Aplleni, the Director General of Home Affairs was also made available to all stakeholders present.

    The stakeholders present were given an opportunity to respond and expressed their shock at the lack of communication not just with them, but with the most important group namely Asylum Seekers and Refugees, the RRO clients which clearly goes against the Batho Pele principle of 'People First'.

    For more about the Project for Conflict Resolution and Development, refer to

    For more about the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, refer to

    For more about the Social Change Assistance Trust, refer to

    For more about the Black Sash, refer to

    To view other NGO press releases, refer to

    Date published: 
    HIVOS Eastern Cape Refugee and Migrant Programme; Project for Conflict Resolution and Development; Somali Association of South Africa (Eastern Cape), Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University Refugee Rights Centre, Social Change Assistance Trust (SCAT), Black Sash
  • African Youth Day Conference 2011

    Organisation of African Youth (OAYouth)

    The Organisation of African Youth (OAYouth) is the youth platform for information exchange, forum for debate on African issues and a network of future political, corporate, academic, literary, religious and traditional leaders in all African contexts.

    The African Youth Day was declared and adopted by the African Union (AU) in 2006 to be commemorated on 1 November each year. It has since evolved as the most powerful platform of young people of Africa.

    OAYouth, in collaboration with Phelps Stokes and International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), is hosting the ‘African Youth Day Conference 2011 (AYDAC'11)’ on 1 November 2011 in Johannesburg.

    The youth of Africa will convene at AYDAC’11 to celebrate the African Youth Day. The conference will pave way for youth to examine workable methods to improve youth unity as well as strengthen youth economic empowerment through leadership development, entrepreneurship support and agricultural transformation.

    Conference Objectives:

    • Echo the voice of ordinary young people of Africa;
    • Share information and best practices in promoting opportunities for youth encouraging youth to start new entrepreneurship initiatives;
    • Establish suitable structures for meeting the unique needs for youth business start-ups in developing economies in Africa;
    • Build lasting relationships between youth and business institutions;
    • Infuse a gender perspective and rights-based approach to policies and programs for youth;
    • Cultivate in the youth the spirit of accountability, transparency and integrity (ATI).
    Only young people of between 15 and 35 who are of nationality of any African State will qualify to apply.

    Cost: R2 430 per delegate.

    For sponsorships, exhibitions and applications, write to:

    Enquiries: Tel: +27 73 445 4355.

    For more about The Organisation of African Youth, refer to

    Event start date: 
    Event venue: 
    Ingwenya Country Escape, Lanseria, Johannesburg
    Event type: 
  • Zim Sanctions Must Stay - NGO

    Zimbabwe Europe Network (ZEN), a consortium of more than 20 NGOs in nine countries, says sanctions on Zimbabwe must stay intact until human and property rights violations stop.

    In a press statement, ZEN coordinator, Tor-Hugne Olsen, says even after a year of a coalition government, the political, democratic and economic crisis in the country remains unchanged.

    “We support the continuation of targeted measures, including the travel bans on individuals responsible for human rights violations, until the Global Political Agreement (GPA) obligations are fulfilled,” explains Olsen.

    To read the article titled, “Sanctions must stay — NGOs,” click here.
    News Day
  • DHA Extends Zim Registration Deadline

    South Africa has announced it will not deport illegal Zimbabwean immigrants until at least 31 March after extending a deadline for them to regularise their stay.

    The Department of Home Affairs spokesperson, Ricky Naidoo, says that there will be no deportations until the end of March, adding that the department is trying its best to complete the adjudication process in the next few weeks.

    Rights groups estimate there is an estimated 1.5 million illegal Zimbabwean immigrants living in South Africa, but only 275 000 had applied for work and business permits between 1 September and the 31 December deadline last year.

    To read the article titled, “SA extends Zimbabweans' permit deadline to March 31,” click here.
    New Zimbabwe
  • Hanekom Commends DHA on Zim Registrations

    People Against Suffering, Suppression, Oppression and Poverty (PASSOP) says the Department of Home Affairs has ‘exceeded expectations’ in its attempts to register Zimbabweans illegally in South Africa.

    PASSOP spokesperson, Braam Hanekom, who has been among its fiercest critics, points out that, “The officials worked hard, it was a mammoth task and they had limited time.”

    Hanekom says he is hopeful that at least 220 000 Zimbabweans who applied for the dispensation would be accepted.
    Looking to the year ahead, he fears that possible 2011 elections in Zimbabwe could lead to a fresh influx of refugees into the country.

    To read the article titled, “Home Affairs went the extra mile,” click here.
    Independent Online
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