Use Human Rights Month to end xenophobia: Minister

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Uitenhage – As the country commemorates national Human Rights Day, Justice and Correctional Minister Michael Masutha has urged communities to stop looting shops owned by foreign nationals.

“We need to root out the habit of looting shops owned by foreign residence. Don’t vent out your grievances by looting shops,” said Minister Masutha on Saturday.

Addressing crowds of people gathered at Rosedale Field in Uitenhage, Eastern Cape, Minister Masutha said government wants people to use Human Rights Month to foster cohesion, socio economic development, as well as end xenophobia.

“We should go back to the tradition of caring for each other so that young people can learn the spirit of Ubuntu. The democratic government took a decision to mark 21 March a holiday to reaffirm the human rights of all people of South Africa,” the Minister said.

He also spelled out some of the human rights, as enshrine in the South African Constitution.

This year’s Human Rights Day was held under the theme “Celebrating the Freedom Charter, Enjoying Equal Human Rights for All”.

The year also marks the 30th anniversary of the "Uitenhage massacre" of 21 March 1985, where scores of people were shot dead when police opened fire on a crowd of funeral-goers at Langa Township, Uitenhage.

The day started early in the morning with a healing service and wreath laying ceremony at a cemetery.

Speaking to SAnews, most community members appreciated government’s efforts for providing human rights by bringing essential services to them.

Most people felt that since 1994, peoples’ lives have changed for the better, and this is shown by a number of learners receiving education, descent houses and quality health care services.

However, people admitted that South Africans also have a responsibility to look after the infrastructure provided and they should stop destroying it.

Zoleka Ehempe from Uitenhage, who is a teacher at a local school, said after 1994, black peple are now neighbours with white people and mixed with other white learners.

As part of the celebrations, a National Social Cohesion Report Back Summit will take place in Port Elizabeth on 30 March.

The gathering is a follow up event to the summit that was held at the Walter Sisulu Memorial Square of Remembrance in Kliptown, Soweto, which also took place at the historic site of the Freedom Charter.

The summit will be attended by delegates from civil society, religious leaders and government representatives.

The purpose of the summit is to review progress and identify stumbling blocks to the nation building and social cohesion programme as outlined by the resolution of the 2012 Summit.

It will also chart the way forward to speed up the nation building project. –