Day of rights promises from leaders

Sowetan Reporters

Sowetan Reporters

Access to basic services, crime, education and HIV-Aids prevention came under the spotlight yesterday at a Human Rights Day commemoration in Sharpeville, Vereeniging.

Sharpeville was thrust into the international spotlight on March 21 1960 when 69 people protesting against the pass laws were shot dead by the police.

Yesterday a few protesters carried placards reading: "20 years without basic services is a human rights abuse", "Shilowa investigate Emfuleni Council", and "For how long Batho Pele?"

But this did not dampen the joyous mood of the rest of the people as they danced and sang to the music on offer.

Gauteng Premier Mbhazima Shilowa told the crowd gathered at George Thabe Stadium: "Human rights must mean more than having them enshrined in the constitution. It must mean access to shelter, water, sanitation, electricity, jobs, quality health and education."

Shilowa said HIV-Aids hindered communities from fully enjoying their rights.

"We have survived the most difficult times in our history, why do we allow ourselves to be killed by something that we know how to avoid?"

In Mpumalanga, Premier Thabang Makwetla said people who abused farmworkers were undermining the government's efforts of building a human rights culture.

Speaking in Leandra, he said: "As we celebrate advances in building a human rights culture in our country, our efforts are undermined by those who continue to violate the rights of farmworkers."

Limpopo Premier Sello Moloto told thousands of people who attended the event in Groblersdal that Limpopo had made huge strides in fighting poverty and underdevelopment.

In KwaZulu-Natal, premier Sbu Ndebele said the provincial government had made progress towards land reform.

He said a plan needed to be put in place to accelerate the pace of acquisition and land redistribution. He was speaking in Ladysmith in northern KwaZulu-Natal.