The chairman of the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC), Andre Gaum, has announced that President Cyril Ramaphosa will be invited to appear before the commission hearing into the July 2021 unrest which erupted in the Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal, to report on the government’s response.
Gaum said Ramaphosa is expected to appear before the commission in April in the third round of testimony following the completion of Gauteng’s event-driven second leg.
Gaum also announced that the commission should begin work on finalizing its report.
“Given the extent to which human rights were impacted during the events that took place between 8 and 19 July 2021 in the provinces of Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal, the commission exercised its constitutional and statutory mandate to investigate the causes of the unrest as well as the impact on human rights,” Gaum said.
The Hearing Panel heard testimony from survivors, various community members, commercial industry players, private security and state officials, as well as prominent political figures, including ministers Bheki Cele and Ronald Lamola.
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The hearing, according to the SAHRC, is a matter of national concern and involves various rights, such as the right to “security, the right to be free from all forms of violence, the right not to have one’s property seized and the right to life”.
The commission received 3 million rand from Treasury investigate the cause of the disturbances and produce a report.
Earlier in February, the report of a panel of experts appointed to investigate, among other things, the cause of the riots that swept the two provinces, concluded that the catastrophic failures of the police, intelligence structures and the government to quell the violence led to destruction and looting, which wiped out R50 billion from the economy, left more than 354 dead and dozens injured.
Furthermore, he found that the internal battles of the ANC have now become a matter of national security and a serious source of instability in the country.
Along with inequality, poor service delivery, high unemployment rates, a culture of violence, and the plunder of state resources, all combined have created the perfect breeding ground for future violent outbreaks of this magnitude.
“Our Constitution is based on the principle of accountability. The mandate of the Commission is, among other things, to monitor and evaluate respect for human rights in the Republic. In the end, it comes down to the Commission under the Constitution of the Republic to investigate and report on matters where human rights have been violated and to take steps to obtain appropriate redress,” said Gushwell Brooks of the commission.
The second part of the hearings began on February 21 and ended on Friday March 4, with the third part set to resume in April.