The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) has urged government to ensure that South Africans who are not “supportive” of the national shutdown march will be protected.
The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) is expected to lead a nationwide protest on Monday, 20 March, with the South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu)
The main reasons given for the protest by the red berets include demanding the resignation of President Cyril Ramaphosa, crippling load shedding, crime, the rising cost of living and unemployment.
Right to protest
SAHRC spokesperson Wisani Baloyi said the commission has taken note of the planned national shutdown organised by the EFF.
“We fully comprehends the devastating impact of load shedding and lack of electricity supply on the lives of people and on the economy and while all are assured of the right to demonstrate and show dissatisfaction, the Commission is concerned by the level of threat and intimidation being communicated in the media, and other platforms as part of the build up to the protest action.
“If these threats of violence are followed through by supporters of the EFF or other people participating in the march, such may lead to harm and the violation of human rights,” Baloyi said.
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Non-supporters must be protected
Baloyi said South African who do not support the national shutdown must be kept safe.
“The Commission calls on the government and the relevant ministries to ensure that persons who wish to exercise their rights, and who are not supportive of the protest actions of the EFF, are not intimidated or harmed as they go about their lives and livelihoods on 20 March 2023.
We also calls on law enforcement agencies to continue to protect and serve all who may or many not be part of the protest and to exercise restraint as they marshal protestors on Monday,” Baloyi added.
On Thursday, Ramaphosa warned the EFF and other protestors that anarchy would not be tolerated during their shutdown march and that law enforcement officials will defend the people of South Africa.
“The security forces of our country are going to defend our people. They are going to make sure that intimidation, anarchy and disorder does not prevail. But those who want to protest, by all means protest peacefully.
“But if you are going to restrict the rights of other people, coerce them, intimidate them and unleash violence, our security forces are going to defend the people of South Africa, that I must make clear because we will not allow disorder and anarchy to prevail in this country and against the people of South Africa. That will not be allowed,” Ramaphosa warned.
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