South Africa

South Africa Country Guide

The South Africa Country Guide was produced by the Danish Institute for Human Rights and the South African Human Rights Commission, with assistance from the Centre for Human Rights – University of Pretoria.

This report is a compilation of publicly available information from international institutions, local NGOs, governmental agencies, businesses, media and universities, among others. International and domestic sources are identified on the basis of their expertise and relevance to the South African context, as well as their timeliness and impartiality.

The initial survey of publicly available, international sources was carried out by the Danish Institute for Human Rights. A draft was shared with the South African Human Rights Commission, who carried out local consultations and contributed further local information. The completed Country Guide aims to provide a comprehensive overview, on the basis of the information available, of the ways in which companies do or may impact human rights in South Africa.

This report also includes recommendations on how companies may address their impacts or contribute to development. These recommendations are adapted from existing Danish Institute guidance for companies, as well as local sources. Company initiatives are drawn from the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre, as well as local consultations.

The current Country Guide is not meant as an end product, or a final determination of country conditions. It is intended to be the basis, and the beginning, of a process of dissemination, uptake and modification. DIHR and SAHRC seek further engagement with local stakeholders, and intend to update the Country Guide every two years on that basis.

Read the Country Guide South Africa here

Read the full Country Guide here

News Feed

Global: Nueva guía y reporte sobre acciones de defensoras de derechos humanos ante proyectos extractivos empresariales

28 Aug 2017

New practical guide on women actions in defence of human rights against extractive industries

28 Aug 2017

So. Africa: 3 miners' bodies retrieved from Harmony Gold operated mine after 5 were trapped following an earth tremor; 2 still missing

28 Aug 2017 — "Third trapped miner dies at Harmony Gold South Africa mine", 28 Aug 2017 A third miner has died at a South African gold mine operated by Harmony Gold and two more remain missing after they were trapped underground following an earth tremor, the company said on Monday. Friday’s tremor that rocked the Kusasalethu mine, one of the world’s deepest, with gold extracted at depths below 3 kilometers (1.8 miles), highlights the dangers of mining in South Africa. “Search and rescue efforts will continue to recover the remaining two trapped employees,” Harmony said in a statement.

So. Africa: Bokoni Platinum owners have a duty of care to retrenched workers & communities; says NGO

28 Aug 2017 — "Bokoni Platinum must come clean", 14 Aug 2017 The Bench Marks Foundation has thrown down the gauntlet to Bokoni Platinum in Limpopo, which is retrenching 2651 employees, to give details of its plans to mothball shafts as it reiterated its call for mining houses to pay retrenched employees social grants...Around 20 000 job losses are looming in the mining industry as Bokoni, a joint venture between Atlatsa Resources and Anglo American Platinum, the world’s biggest platinum producer, affect jobs...Bench Marks executive director, John Capel, said there were many unanswered questions around Bokoni...“Communities such as Monametse, Sefateng, Mosotse and other nearby villages are going to be deeply affected by Bokoni’s decision,” he said. “The mine has failed to help people in these villages generate a sustainable income. Most of these villagers’ ploughing fields have been denuded by mining operations and there are still a lot of people living in abject poverty,” he said.Capel said one of the biggest fears of communities was that the mine would use this “suspension” as a way of avoiding its requirement to rehabilitate the land...  

So. Africa: 5th anniversary of Lonmin Marikana massacres commemorated

21 Aug 2017 — The 16th of August 2017 marked the 5th anniversary of the killing of 34 mine workers by South African police at Lonmin's Marikana mine in the North West province in 2012. In total 44 people lost their lives. On the afternoon of 16th August 2012 members of the South African Police Service (SAPS) killed 34 mine workers at a Lonmin Plc owned platinum mine in the Marikana area in North West province. The killings (‘the Marikana massacre’) were preceded by a number of other incidents of violence and confrontation over the period from Friday 10th August onwards, relating to an unfolding conflict at the Marikana mine. The miners were demanding a minimum wage of R12 500 ($950) a month and improvement in living conditions, particularly housing Lonmin has reportedly absorbed some of the family members of the killed miners for mainly general work and other underground positions. The company is also reported to have set an education fund for children of the killed miners. One of the labour unions active in Marikana, Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) has set up a trust to build houses for all 44 Marikana families affected; they completed the first one earlier this year and it was for shot and killed strike leader Mgcineni “Mambush” Noki's family in the Eastern Cape. However, many of the promises that Lonmin made before the tragedy, such as the construction of 5 500 housing units, are yet to be fulfilled. The Marikana massacre has put to question a number of aspects relating to business and human rights in South Africa, chief of which is the right to protest as well as the state-corporate nexus and the impacts and consequences of this collusion. In a press statement marking the 5th anniversary of the Marikana massacres, NGO Khulumani Support Group wrote "Today five years after the fateful Marikana massacre, the state-corporate nexus and the impacts and consequences of this nexus, appear as strong as ever and the widows remain excluded from the state's promised measures of repair". Bloggers have argued that the steps made are commendable but the families of the killed mine workers should still receive justice. More background to the Marikana massacre is here, and here.

Afrique du Sud: Les mineurs de Marikana demandent toujours justice cinq ans après le massacre

18 Aug 2017 — "Les mineurs sud-africains demandent toujours justice cinq ans après le massacre de Marikana" Des milliers de mineurs chantent dans la plaine aride de Marikana, là où la police sud-africaine a tué 36 de leurs camarades le 16 août 2012. Cinq ans plus tard, ils réclament toujours justice pour la pire fusillade policière depuis la fin de l'apartheid.  En mars, les autorités sud-africaines avaient pourtant annoncé 1 milliard de rands (63 millions d'euros) de compensations aux familles de victimes. Il y a cinq ans jour pour jour, une foule de grévistes armés de machettes et de lances se rassemble face à la police sur des "koppies", les collines de Marikana. Ils réclament de meilleurs salaires et des logements décents. Après plusieurs heures de tension, les forces de l'ordre ouvrent le feu... Le ministre de la Police de l'époque Nathi Mthethwa est toujours dans le gouvernement de Jacob Zuma, au portefeuille de la Culture. Ben Magara, le président de Lonmin, le groupe britannique qui exploite Marikana, a aussi fait le déplacement à Marikana. "Aussi triste et tragique que fut 2012, nous devons nous assurer que ce soit un catalyseur pour un changement positif", lance-t-il au micro. Après la grève, Lonmin a sensiblement augmenté les salaires, reconnaissent les mineurs interrogés mercredi par l'AFP. Le groupe s'est aussi engagé dans un programme de logements...

So. Africa: 4 mine workers trapped to death at Tau Lekoa gold mine; unions say safety measures must be improved

1 Aug 2017 — Four mine workers died at Tau Lekoa gold mine in Orkney, North West province of South Africa, as the result of a seismic incident in the town. The miners were trapped underground at a shaft when the incident happened on 22 July and rescuers have since recovered the bodies. Mineral Resources Minister, Mosebenzi Zwane, says the death of four mine workers at the mine in is unacceptable and  has called on mining companies to do more to make mines safer for workers. The Congress of SA Trade Unions (COSATU) was quoted by African News Agency as saying: "COSATU and National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) leadership have been observing efforts by the rescue team to recover bodies." Responding to the incident, the National Union of Mineworkers health and safety secretary Erick Gcilitshana said: "This accident, like any other mining accidents, could have been prevented. We are told that recommendations were presented by rock engineers to the mine on how to mine safely". 

So. Africa: Mining companies set aside millions for potential settlement of gold miners’ silicosis lawsuit

28 Jul 2017 — "Anglo, Gold Miners Set Aside Millions for Lung Disease Claims", 27 Jul 2017 South African mining firms including Anglo American Plc are preparing a multimillion-dollar settlement with as many as 100,000 former workers who suffer from debilitating and deadly lung diseases caused by exposure to dust from working underground. Anglo has set aside $101 million in preparation for a potential settlement, while Gold Fields Ltd. expects to pay about $30 million to end a class action lawsuit, the companies said in separate statements Thursday. AngloGold Ashanti Ltd., Sibanye Gold Ltd. and Harmony Gold Mining Co. are among 32 respondents named in the suit, which would be the country’s biggest class action. “Significant progress has been made towards a settlement, such that companies are feeling comfortable enough to quantify their liabilities,” Richard Spoor, a lawyer representing claimants, said in a phone interview. “It’s still a process but I’m fairly optimistic we will be able to conclude something within the course of this year.”… South Africa’s High Court last year ruled that there was enough evidence of unsafe working practices to allow a class action case to proceed and that as many as 500,000 former workers could be included…  

"Defenders of the Earth: Global killings of land and environmental defenders in 2016"

18 Jul 2017 — In 2016, at least 200 land and environmental  defenders were murdered – the deadliest year on record. Not only is this trend growing, it’s spreading – killings were dispersed across 24 countries, compared  to 16 in 2015. With many killings unreported, and even less investigated, it is likely that the true number is actually far higher... This tide of violence is driven by an intensifying fight for land and natural resources, as mining, logging, hydro-electric and agricultural companies trample on people and the environment in their pursuit of profit. As more and more extractive projects were imposed on communities, many of those who dared to speak out and defend their rights were brutally silenced...[G]lobally, governments and companies are failing in their duty to protect activists at risk...Investors, too, are fuelling the violence by backing projects that trash the environment and trample human rights... [They] are failing to tackle the main root cause  of the attacks: the imposition of projects on communities without their free, prior and informed consent...Criminalisation tends to be used as a tactic when governments and business collude to prioritise shortterm profit over sustainable development. Over the course of 2015 and 2016 the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre documented at least 134 criminalisation cases of this type.

G20 Leaders' Declaration reaffirms commitment to Paris Agreement despite US withdrawal; action must follow to increase energy access

12 Jul 2017