Public Protector urges South Africans to use state institutions

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Kimberley - Public Protector, Lawrence Mushwana has encouraged South Africans to use Chapter 9 state institutions such as the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) to protect their human rights.

Chapter 9 institutions such as the Public Protector, the Commission for Gender Equality, the Auditor-General, the Electoral Commission and Public Service Commission are accountable to the National Assembly and supports constitutional democracy.

Speaking at the national Human Rights Day event at the Galeshewe Stadium in Kimberley on Saturday, the Public Protector said these institutions have been developed according to Chapter 9 of the Constitution to be watchdogs of human rights and to ensure that every citizen's rights are firmly protected.

Mr Mushwana said this day celebrates the progress that government and the public have made in the last 15 years and also to commemorate the lives of those who perished in the struggle against the system of apartheid on 21 March 1960.

Speaking to BuaNews at the event, the Chairperson of SAHRC, Jody Kollapen said this day was set aside to remind and educate South Africans about their rights as well as to encourage the culture of tolerance.

He said everyone has a right to have his or her rights protected, adding that the Constitution also ensures that people have the right to education, proper health care, nutrition as well as to appropriate basic services.

Mr Kollapen said if people feel that their constitutional rights are undermined they must not hesitate to contact the relevant Chapter 9 institutions particularly the SAHRC because everyone has the right to have his or her democratic rights protected.

Premier of Northern Cape, Dipou Peters said government has worked accordingly to ensure that every citizen was equal and to have their rights protected.

"Our government remains true to the Constitution which enforces the protection and promotion of every citizen's and other international individuals' rights are protected," she said.

Human Rights Day is celebrated annually to honour the fallen heroes of the past, reflect on the achievement of democracy and freedom, while assessing on what still needs to be done to protect and uphold human rights.

While many people are still affected by poverty, inequality and racism, government has made certain gains over the last 15 years.

Its social grants programme has benefited 15 million people, 95 percent of South Africans now live within 5km from a health facility and have improving access to health facilities and clean water as well as 9.9 million citizens have received houses since 1994.