top of page

Starve the beloved children: Looking at children’s rights in SA on Human Right Day

By Zolani Sinxo

March 22, 2024

Credits @FFHR.CZ

Cape Town - As the country commemorates Human Rights Day, more needed to be done to protect children, an expert and activists said.

This, as around 15 000 children are diagnosed with severe acute malnutrition every year.

Stellenbosch University Professor, Marianne Strydom, said food insecurity was often the outcome of poverty and unemployment.

“Rights that are especially important in terms of children are the right to survival, shelter, and social services or protection.

“The right to survival is related to the right to basic food or food security, as indicated in the Constitution. Food security is an immense challenge, as approximately half of the children in South Africa live in households that are below the poverty line.

“Furthermore, over 15 000 children are diagnosed with severe acute malnutrition every year, and in 2019, the Nelson Mandela Children Foundation found that approximately 2.5 million children are hungry when they go to sleep every night.”

Strydom said children were unable to ensure their rights were protected.

“They must be protected by the state, which is related to another right in the UNCRC and the Constitution, namely the right to protection.”

Spokesperson at social services organisation Ilitha Labantu, Siyabulela Monakali, said the dignity of women and children in South Africa were under constant siege.

“South Africa finds itself in a peculiar position in that, in light of having one of the world’s most progressive constitutions with legislation that serves to protect the rights and dignity of women and children, the country has a monstrous record of gross human rights violations committed against women and children.

“The nation has a femicide rate that is five times the global rate and crime statistics which cover the reporting period of October until December last year indicate 12 211 rapes were reported. The crime statistics also suggested that 285 children were murdered during this reporting period.”

Speaking on the progress made in the Western Cape since attaining freedom 30 years ago, ANC spokesperson, Khalid Sayed, said there was a period of five years when the ANC governed that programmes were started to deliver on human rights.

He said these were discontinued when the current administration took over in the province.

“Thirty years ago, across the country, we didn’t have the most fundamental basic human rights that so many take for granted even today.

“These freedoms were hard-won and are worth celebrating.

“At this time, we remember all those who fought on our behalf in the Western Cape and beyond and remind us to keep fighting for those denied these rights, not only for people living in the Western Cape but for people living wherever they may be,” said Sayed.

The Azanian People Organisation (Azapo), which annually commemorates Human Rights Day in Langa, together with the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC), said they saw no reason to celebrate as nothing has been done to improve the lives of black people in the country.

“As Azapo, we've been on record saying that we reject Human Rights Day because we feel that it is a distortion of our history.

“What makes that distortion very unfortunate is the fact that it is perpetrated and driven by the government elected in the context of the so-called democratic political dispensation.

“It is above us to have the right to speak and the right to vote.

“And the right to association is just tedious.

“These are just smokescreens. These are bourgeoisie rights that are meant to further protect the ruling clique against the power of the majority of the working class and black people at large,” said Sibongile Somdaka, Azapo’s Western Cape spokesperson.



bottom of page