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

So. Africa: Two miners confirmed dead & four rescued at AngloGold Ashanti’s Mponeng Mine following a rockfall

9 Nov 2017 — "Two miners confirmed dead, four rescued at AngloGold Ashanti’s Mponeng Mine", 3 Oct 2017. Two miners have been confirmed dead following a rockfall at a mine near Carletonville on Thursday morning (2nd November 2017), News 24 reported. According to AngloGold Ashanti spokesperson, Chris Nthite,after finding one body,  a second one had been retrieved from the Mponeng Mine near Carletonville on Johannesburg’s West Rand, following a rockfall which saw eight miners trapped underground...Safety has been a sticky issue in South African mining sector, with the Department of Mineral Resources ordering mines to conduct a safety shutdown , when it identifies breaches, at times...

So. Africa: About 150 community based organizations and activists apply to join court case against mining charter saying mining-affected communities should be recognized as key stakeholders

7 Nov 2017 — "Mine Communities Challenge South African Ownership Rules and Taxes", 24 Oct 2017 About 150 community-based organizations and activists, represented by the Centre for Applied Legal Studies, will apply to join an existing case brought by mining companies against the charter, the legal group said in a statement. The companies, represented by the Chamber of Mines, are opposing the application because they say it will delay the proces...The CALS is also seeking a declaratory order that mining-affected communities “are recognized as a key stakeholder and must be meaningfully engaged when developing any new charter.”...While there are some positive elements to the new charter, it was developed without engaging with the communities, the CALS said...“We are asking the court to allow us to intervene in the case and to set aside the current charter for this failure to meaningfully engage affected communities,” the CALS said. “Mining-affected communities continue to bear the greatest burdens of mining -- losing farmland to mining operations, facing environmental harm and degradation and suffering from illnesses caused by pollution.”...The CALS and the mining companies have different reasons for opposing the charter...

So. Africa: Stakeholders express concern over high fatality rate of mineworkers in South African mines

7 Nov 2017 — "Concern over high fatality rate of SA mineworkers", 6 Nov 2017 At least 76 mineworkers have been killed and 2 156 sustained serious injuries since the beginning of the year, says the Chamber of Mines of South Africa. The death toll and injuries include two miners who were killed and six who sustained injuries as a result of a rockfall following a seismic event at AngloGold Ashanti’s Mponeng Mine in Carletonville last Thursday...According to the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR), 2016/17 Mine Health and Safety Inspectorate’s report, the industry employed 433 980 mineworkers in 2016, and recorded 73 fatalities and 2 846 injuries as compared to 77 fatalities and 3 139 serious injuries in 2015. The report states that classification of fatalities during 2016 was as a result of fall of ground, transportation and mining, as well as general accidents at 33%, 32% and 22% respectively...NUM [National Union of Minewokers] national spokesperson Livhuwani Mammburu said: “We are worried about the fatalities of mineworkers, because they do not seem to stop. We are concerned that more than 70 mineworkers have died since the beginning of the year. Unfortunately, they have left behind orphans and widows without a breadwinner at home.”

Südafrika: BASF droht aufgrund von Problemen mit der Einhaltung von Menschenrechten & Umweltstandards, die Geschäftsbeziehung mit Rohstoff-Zulieferer Lonmin zu enden

6 Nov 2017 — "BASF droht Vertrag mit Platin-Zulieferer in Südafrika aufzulösen", 27 Oktober 2017 Der deutsche Chemiekonzern BASF droht einem Rohstoff-Zulieferer damit, die Geschäftsbeziehung zu beenden. Grund sind anhaltende Probleme mit der Einhaltung von Menschenrechten und Umweltstandards in einer südafrikanischen Platin-Mine. Der britische Minenkonzern Lonmin betreibt in Marikana bei Kapstadt eine der größten Platin-Minen der Welt... [D]ie deutschen [führen] regelmäßige Untersuchungen und Besuche vor Ort durch, zuletzt im Januar 2017. „Dieses Nachfolgeaudit hat in mehreren Bereichen ein positives Ergebnis ergeben“, schreibt der Dax-Konzern in einer Stellungnahme für die WirtschaftsWoche. „Jedoch identifizierte das Audit auch Lücken, die Lonmin noch schließen muss“, so  BASF weiter... „Das Bestreben der BASF ist es, Lonmin bei seinen Bemühungen zu unterstützen“, heißt es in der Stellungnahme. Dazu stehe man mit Lonmin in einem kontinuierlichen und intensiven Dialog. Weiter schreibt der Dax-Konzern: „Sollten wir im weiteren Verlauf der Umsetzung der Maßnahmen feststellen, dass Lonmin trotz unserer Unterstützung vereinbarte oder geforderte Verbesserungen nicht innerhalb eines konkreten Zeitplans nachweisen kann, behalten wir uns vor, die Zusammenarbeit zu beenden.“

Call for abstracts: CALS/SAJHR Colloquium on Land and Property

31 Oct 2017 — CALS and the South African Journal on Human Rights will convene a Colloquium on ‘Land and Property in a Contested Terrain’ in July 2018 Failure to transform the land/property landscape has become a primary cause of hostility towards South Africa’s post-1994 constitutional dispensation, as well as a subject of substantial litigation and a topic of heated scholarly discourse. A specific source of contestation has been section 25 of the Constitution, the so-called ‘property clause’, which is popularly viewed as an obstacle to transformation. In this Colloquium, we aim to explore the parameters of problems concerning the rights to land and property, and to contribute towards a grounded interdisciplinary scholarship on related topics. The Colloquium will be organised around a number of themes, including: Constitutional, legal and policy analyses; The identity- and distribution-related dimensions of land and property rights; The intersecting, layered and sometimes clashing dimensions of land/property ownership, use and occupation; The complexities of formalising communal land rights and traditional leadership roles in respect of land rights; The alignment (or not?) of plural legal forms of property rights; The efficacy of government programmes to advance access to land and property; and The predicament of mine-affected communities vis-à-vis land and mineral rights. With a view to consolidating the Colloquium programme, we are inviting interested scholars and activists from a broad range of disciplines including social science, anthropology, philosophy and law to submit abstracts/expressions of interest (+/- 250 words) on any topic related to the broad themes of the Colloquium, by Monday 6 November 2017, addressed to Matimba Hlungwani at In the course of 2019, the SAJHR will publish a special issue on the basis of Colloquium papers submitted to the Journal following the event, each of which will be subject to the normal peer-review process.

Blog zur G20-Präsidentschaft Argentiniens: Koalition aus NGOs, Gewerkschaften, Unternehmen, Think Tanks & Stiftungen fordert klaren Fokus auf Klima-Energie Nexus

27 Oct 2017 — Im Jahr 2017 hat eine noch nie da gewesene Koalition aus NGOs, Gewerkschaften, Unternehmen, Think Tanks und Stiftungen unermüdlich für eine ambitionierte Implementierung des Paris Abkommens durch die G20 plädiert. Investorengruppen sprachen sich für Maßnahmen zur Berücksichtigung von Klimarisiken im Finanzwesen, für Szenario-basierte Risikobewertung sowie deren Offenlegung aus. Die Vertreter des offiziellen G20-Begleitprozesses der Wirtschaft (B20), Zivilgesellschaft (C20) sowie der Think Tanks (T20) veröffentlichten eine gemeinsame Erklärung in Unterstützung des Paris-Abkommens und einer nachhaltigen Energiewende. Ebenso fordern sie von den G20-Staaten klare langfristige Rahmenbedingungen, die Beendigung der Subventionierung fossiler Energieträger und die Einführung effektiver CO2-Bepreisung. Dieselbe Koalition, inklusive Gewerkschaften (Labor 20) und Stiftungen (F20), hat in einem Brief an den argentinischen G20 Chef-Verhandler ihre Unterstützung für die Umsetzung des Hamburger Klimaaktionsplans und einen klaren Fokus auf den Klima-Energie Nexus zum Ausdruck gebracht.

So. Africa's Standard Bank will not finance Kenya coal project opposed by activists due to potential negative impacts

24 Oct 2017 — "Standard Bank Sets The Record Straight on Financing Lamu" South Africa's Standard Bank has stated they will not fund the proposed Lamu coal-fired power plant in Kenya. This comes despite reports that they were a major project funder, as included in the bank’s annual report of 2015. This is good news for the Lamu people and the deCOALonize Kenya campaign who have been at the forefront of the contentious court battle against the National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA). The environmental impacts of the Lamu coal plant have been underplayed, particularly the plant's contribution to climate change. The controversial decision to build the 1,050 Megawatt coal-fired thermal power plant will have dire consequences, not only for Lamu County, but for the whole country. “The fact that a major African bank refuses to fund this deadly plant sends a strong anti-coal message amidst financiers increasing unease when funding coal globally. Any investment in coal is a disaster for the planet. Financiers are aware of the poor financial return of these projects, especially in comparison to renewable energy projects.” warned Omar Elmawi from the​ ​deCOALonize​ ​Kenya​ ​campaign​. Standard Bank states they reviewed the opportunity to fund the plant, but for “various reasons” decided against it. This was confirmed by Nigel Beck, Head of Environmental and Social Advisory​ ​at​ ​Standard​ ​Bank. “This is a wise decision on behalf of Standard Bank,” said Glen Tyler, 350 South Africa Team Leader. “Building a coal plant near a UNESCO World Heritage Site will attract continued protests from the people it will impact. We have seen how shortcuts taken by prospective independent coal power producers in South Africa in accounting for their impacts have been exposed. These will ultimately raise the price tag of the plants - investing in coal is not a good financial decision."

So. Africa: Report says 940 000 working days lost to protests on wages, bonus & other compensation benefits in 2016

22 Oct 2017 — "South Africa: Over 940 000 Working Days Lost to Protests", 28 Sept 2017 The Department of Labour's Acting Director General, Vuyo Mafata, on Thursday released the Industrial Action Report for 2016, which shows that the South African labour market lost a total of 946 323 working days as a result of 122 work stoppages. This, according to the report, represents a 4.7% increase in working days lost in 2016 compared to 903 921 days in 2015. Launching the report, Mafata said most of the work stoppages were due to wages, bonus and other compensation demands..."The strike report remains a useful piece of up-to-date information for various stakeholders including government departments, unions, employers, business, international organisations, research institutes, NGOs and students. "The report provides a detailed account of companies affected by work stoppages and disaggregates information by province, duration, industries, nature and reasons of strikes," Mafata said.

So. Africa: Kuyasa Mining & KiPower withdraw opposition to legal challenge by environmental groups concerned about climate change impacts of proposed coal plant

17 Oct 2017 — "Proposed coal plant developer withdraws opposition to legal challenge", 5 Oct 2017 Kuyasa Mining and KiPower have withdrawn their opposition to the court challenge launched by groundWork– with the assistance of the Centre for Environmental Rights (CER) – of the proposed KiPower coal-fired power station, to be based near Delmas, Mpumalanga. groundWork launched court proceedings in August 2017 against KiPower’s environmental authorisation and the Minister of Environmental Affairs’ decision to allow the power station to go ahead without a climate change impact assessment...KiPower and Kuyasa’s attorneys have now indicated that they plan to apply afresh for a new environmental authorisation for the power station, and that they will not be opposing the application to have KiPower’s existing environmental authorisation set aside...It is also not clear whether KiPower’s new environmental impact assessment (EIA) application will include a climate change impact assessment and will address the numerous deficiencies and water pollution concerns that arose from the original EIA...The Hawerklip community and other communities in the Highveld – with whom groundWork is working – have strong objections to this proposed power station, given the impacts it will have on, amongst other things, the already high air pollution, the water resources on which they depend, climate change, and most importantly, their health and overall wellbeing. [See additional information on this case here]

So. Africa: NGO files court papers opposing phosphate mine's usage of West Coast groundwater citing harm to the environment

17 Oct 2017 — "South Africa: Urgent Court Action to Stop Mine Using West Coast Groundwater", 13 Oct 2017 The West Coast Environmental Protection Agency (WCEPA) has filed an urgent interdict in the Western Cape High Court against Kropz Elandsfontein (Pty) Ltd and the Minister and Department of Water Affairs and Sanitation...WCEPA's objection to granting the water licence is based on experts' reports which showed that the mine's usage of water from the Elandsfontein aquifer posed "a high risk of irreparable environmental damage" to the integrity of the aquifer and to ecosystems dependent on groundwater...The NGO said in court papers it did not have to show that the mine's use of the aquifer water could harm the environment...At the heart of the NGO's objection to the water licence is that possible environmental impacts of the mine's water use from the aquifer have not been assessed...Kropz had not taken any steps to challenge the appeal, but had told attorneys for the WCEPA that it regarded the appeal as invalid...Spokesperson for Kropz Elandsfontein Michelle Lawrence said the company would oppose the court action. "We will be meeting our legal counsel to determine the way forward. We shall not provide any further information on this matter until it is dealt with by the court," said Lawrence.