Mkhize advocates for human rights in rural communities

Friday, March 29, 2019

Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) Minister Zweli Mkhize has called for the protection of human rights in rural communities, saying the violation of the rights of women and children in these areas is not acceptable.  

Mkhize made the remarks during a dialogue with traditional leaders in Moletjie Moshate, Limpopo, on Thursday. The dialogue is part of the ongoing commemoration of Human Rights Month held under the theme, ‘Not in my culture’.  

“Public dialogue and engagement is an integral part of our lives as Africans, hence it provided an opportunity for government to interact with and engage various sectors on issues of human rights.

“The day marked an affirmation by ordinary people, who attended the dialogue, that the rights of humans are important. To delegates, today’s dialogue was also a commitment and a reminder of our rights and the price paid for our democracy and freedom,” said Mkhize.

Mkhize affirmed the importance of the traditional leadership sector as an integral part of democracy.

“Issues such as customary marriage, divorce, inheritance, land tenure and many others still reflect the lingering bias and oppression of women. To this effect, the violations of the human rights of traditional communities, particularly the rights of women and children, is not acceptable. We urge traditional leaders to play an important part to protect women and say “Not in my culture,” said the Minister.

Mkhize said traditional leaders need to work hand in hand with government departments and authorities to identify and help the most vulnerable among their people.  

“Members of the LGBT communities and those living with albinism endure abuse in some communities. Some are even killed for nefarious ends, such as mutilation for muti purposes. We must also protect older women, grandmothers, who are accused of witchcraft in some communities and are attacked.” 

Delegates spoke about the protection of young women from practices such as ukuthwala, where they are abducted and forced into marriages, and ukungena, where women are forced to marry relatives of their late husbands against their will.

They also raised the importance of preserving indigenous languages as part of heritage.

“They foster cohesion in our communities and are a foundation for our identity as distinct traditional communities, as well as for the institution of traditional leadership itself.

“Language, including sign language, is also a very important right enjoyed under freedom of cultural expression in our Constitution and it is through it that we preserve our history and heritage,” Mkhize said.

Delegates agreed that women should live as full equals, without any fear of violence, enjoying protection, where they are able to play very influential roles. –