There was an urgent need for South Africans to tackle abuse against women and children.
Justice and correctional services minister Michael Masutha said this at the 70th anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights at the Constitutional Hill building in Johannesburg on Friday.
"South Africans need to tackle two major challenges‚ the escalating violence‚ especially directed to woman and children. We need to tackle greed in our society‚ which results in corruption‚ and continues to hold back our government‚" he told the audience.
Masutha stressed the need to honour those who fought tirelessly for freedom.
Among attendees were Kgothatso Moloto‚ founder of Voice It In Action (VIIA)‚ who asked panellists: "Is there a platform that allows the youth to engage and sit down with the president? To learn and reflect‚ because we are the future leaders?"
He stressed the need for youths to be actively involved in programmes that promote awareness of human rights.
Masutha said the human rights declaration was an important milestone in the history of mankind.
He cited the "Thuma Mina" campaign launched by President Cyril Ramaphosa this year‚ saying it signified a new dawn and would help build the country.
UN high commissioner for human rights Michelle Bachelet said she saw it fitting to attend the event because of the various struggles SA had endured.
Bachelet slammed those who considered the human rights declaration to be "a western norm"‚ saying every person needed food‚ safety and freedom.
Ramaphosa was expected to deliver a keynote address at the event. Chief justice Mogoeng Mogoeng and defence and military veterans minister Lindiwe Sisulu were also expected to speak.