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

Zimbabwe: New report by Global Witness critical of the role of Zimbabwe's political elites & security sector in "disappearing Marange diamonds"; says international diamond companies complicit

25 Sep 2017 — Global Witness has released a new report which uncovered new evidence that reveals how Zimbabwe’s Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO), the military, notorious smugglers, and political elites, all allegedly gained control or ownership of companies operating in Zimbabwe’s diamond fields. The report examines five major mining companies that have recently operated in the Marange diamond fields and may continue to hold a stake in its future: Kusena Diamonds, Anjin Investments, Jinan Mining, Diamond Mining Corporation (DMC), and Mbada Diamonds. It details steps taken to conceal their finances, shield their operations from public scrutiny, and hide their ultimate beneficiaries and owners. The five companies were in 2016 amalgamated into one company, Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC) whose operations Global Witness says remains opaque. The report says that despite the role the security forces is alleged to have played in subverting Zimbabwe’s democracy and perpetrating serious human rights abuses, including in Marange diamond fields, Zimbabwean diamonds are traded freely on international markets with the Kimberley Process’ seal of approval. Rather than encouraging transparency and reforms, international demand has delivered a market for Zimbabwe’s diamonds. In a statement responding to the report by Global Witness, the Antwerp World Diamond Centre denied that Zimbabwean diamonds sold by its auction in 2013 and 2014 breached European sanctions.

So. Africa: 2 miners killed by rockfall at Impala Platinum's Rustenburg mine; govt. says will investigate the accident

25 Sep 2017 — "South Africa: Rockfall Kills Two Miners At Impala Platinum's Rustenburg Mine", 19 Sept 2017 Two miners died when a rock fell on their heads while drilling in shaft 12 of Impala Platinum's Rustenburg mine on Tuesday morning, the mine said. The two men, aged 31 and 34, died at the scene, Impala Platinum spokesperson Johan Theron told News24. He said the rock fall did not threaten the lives of any other miners. "We are presently launching a full investigation into the circumstances of the incident. The safety of our employees enjoys priority."  Mineral Resources minister Mosebenzi Zwane said the ministry will be conducting an investigation into the cause of the accident. "We are extremely concerned ... with these incidents which continue to claim the lives of workers in the mines. We have a duty and legislative obligation to investigate these incidents with a view to ensuring that as far as possible we prevent them," Zwane said in a statement.      

So. Africa: BASF must do more to improve living conditions in Marikana, says report; incl. company response

22 Sep 2017 — On the occasion of the 5th anniversary of the massacre of South African miners engaged in strike action at Lomin's Marikana mine, Bread for the World, together with the South African organization Benchmarks Foundation, published a study on the current living and working conditions in Marikana. We invited BASF, Lomin's most important business partner, to comment on the report. The reponse is provided.

Predatory business practices connected to rise in attacks on defenders & threat to global development goals

20 Sep 2017 — "Rising Attacks on Environmental Defenders Threaten Human Rights Goals Globally", 19 Sep 2017 The rise in attacks on people and groups working to protect environmental and indigenous human rights has been attributed to the heightened demand for natural resources around the world. As the global need has grown...businesses have sought new territories to expand...production...[O]ften...corporations have been able to reach extremely favorable agreements with governments competing to attract investment... Predatory and corrupt business practices that lead to human rights abuses and environmental damage are not...exclusive to transnationals....Protecting...defenders is now a most urgent human rights priority....Among...factors that defenders say give them a fighting chance against attacks are regional protection mechanisms, solidarity among environmental and other human rights, media presence...and international connections and advocacy, including the mobilization of public opinion...UN Human Rights Council should call on all UN member states to bring legislation on natural resource governance issues in line with international law, which...contains Guiding principles on business and human rights, and adopt national laws of...defenders... If [defenders] are not supported in their efforts...goals of...2030 Agenda will remain forever beyond reach. This is a critical point...UN [HRC] needs to address as they meet during this UN General Assembly session.

So. Africa: Govt. says Lonmin in breach of some of its social & labour obligations; company requests time extension to redress the situation

19 Sep 2017 — "Lonmin is said to breach social plan needed for mining license", 18 Sept 2017 Lonmin has been given a deadline by South African authorities to fix non-compliant parts of its social labour plan (SLP) or risk having its mining right suspended, according to a person familiar with the matter. The Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) issued...Section 93 notice to the platinum miner relating to shortcomings in Lonmin’s commitment to local development programs, community education and procurement, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the notice hasn’t been made public. “We have received correspondence from the DMR that highlights areas that have been identified as non compliant and/or are behind schedule of implementation in our current SLP,” Lonmin said in a statement. The company will provide evidence of compliance in some areas and is requesting time extensions in other areas, it said...Social labor plans are required by the government to make sure host communities benefit from mining beyond employment and taxes. But they frequently have little input from community members and are rarely enforced, according to a report in March by the Centre for Applied Legal Studies. “SLPs are not assisting in overcoming systemic inequality,” it said.

So. Africa: Union leader shot dead allegedly by an unknown assailant outside Impala Platinum mine

19 Sep 2017 — "AMCU treasurer shot dead near Implats Mine in Rustenburg", 12 Sept 2017 He was 'gunned down in cold blood' as he left the mine to get food, [Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union], Amcu organisation said in a statement...It did not give details on any motives for the attack, which was confirmed by Implats...Labour and social strife in South Africa’s platinum belt, the source of more than 70% of known reserves of the precious metal, has piled pressure on an industry already hit by depressed prices...Rustenburg has seen periodic spasms of labour violence including shootings since Amcu dislodged the once dominant National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) as the main union in the sector five years ago.

So. Africa: Ex-Anglo American & Anglo Gold Ashanti miners suffering from silicosis receive payout of over $5 million

15 Sep 2017 — "South Africa: R66 Million Paid Out to Former Miners With Silicosis", 14 Sep 2017 More than R66 million [around $5 million] has been paid out to former mineworkers suffering from silicosis and related diseases through the Q(h)ubeka Trust set up last year. (Note: This is a separate, albeit related, matter to the silicosis class action court case.)… The trust was set up after Zanele Mbuyisa of Mbuyisa Neale Attorneys, working with Richard Meeran of the human rights law firm Leigh Day and Co, based in London, announced an out-of-court settlement of litigation by 4,365 former mineworkers with occupational lung disease… Claimants had varying degrees of disability caused by scarring of the lung by tiny silica particles inhaled as they worked in gold mines owned by Anglo-American and Anglogold Ashanti operations... A staggering 500 of them died during the litigation, forfeiting any access to justice and reparation. This settlement followed a previous confidential settlement in 2013 which ended nine years of litigation against Anglo American on behalf of 23 former workers from President Steyn gold mine…

Australia: Growing numbers of mining companies operating in Africa; greater transparency required to minimise risk of corrupt practices

11 Sep 2017 — "The Australian companies mining $40 billion out of Africa", 10 September 2017 ...This year, Australia will become the biggest international miner on the African continent, doubling its investment to more than [AU]$40 billion over a decade, according to the Australia-Africa Minerals & Energy Group. Resgen is one of more than 140 Australian companies that have landed on African shores, 44 in South Africa alone, documents obtained by tax transparency network Publish What You Pay Australia show. families agreed to lease their land to Resgen for a railway to the Boikarabelo mine, to be built by a contractor on the condition that the company would provide services to the community...when the contractor was later liquidated it left a school with no roof and water pumps without electricity... Australia now outnumbers the US, Canada, China and the UK for the highest concentration of companies in Africa with 312 projects in 34 countries, 105 of those in gold... Since 2004, more than 380 people have died in mining accidents or off-site skirmishes connected to Australian companies in Africa...revealed bribes had allegedly been paid...allegations of mining in prohibited zones...combating bribery starts with tax and government payment transparency...[Jessie Cato of Publish What you Pay Australia] is calling on Australia to enforce Canada's Extractive Sector Transparency Measures Act and require companies listed on the Australian Stock Exchange to report their payments to government, both domestically and abroad...It is not just tax transparency advocates calling for change, mandatory transparency laws have support in the mining community too... [also refers to Perseus Mining, Mineral Commodities, Sundance Resources & Ledjadja (subsidiary of Resgen)]

So. Africa: Women farm workers protest labour law violations; urge authorities to guarantee that farmers comply with labour laws

11 Sep 2017 — "South Africa: Women Farm Workers Protest Labour Law Violations", 4 Sept 2017 On the last day of women's month, more than 200 women farm workers marched from Keizergracht Street in Cape Town to the provincial legislature and then to the Department of Labour. They wore black shirts that read: "Stop labour rights violations!". They carried posters with "Demand Better Labour Conditions" and "We Demand Toilets in the Vineyards". They danced and sang: "We are ready to take our rights" and "We want a living wage". The protest was organised by the Women on Farms Project (WFP), a non-governmental organisation that promotes the rights of women who work in commercial agriculture in the Western and Northern Cape...The march followed a presentation by the group earlier that morning [on the organization's] recent research on violations of labour law on commercial farms...[The research study] found that 75% of seasonal workers in the sample were not paid the minimum wage. Farm workers also reported health and sanitation concerns. 72% of women seasonal workers indicated there was a lack of toilet facilities where they worked, and that they were forced to use "a bush or a secluded spot". The study concluded that "farmers are systematically violating laws that were introduced to protect and advance the rights of farm workers".

So. Africa: NGO report says at least 56% of those living near DRD Gold mine dumps suffer from respiratory problems; includes response from company

11 Sep 2017 — The Bench Marks Foundation has released ‘Waiting to inhale’, a study on household health and well-being in four mine-impacted communities in Johannesburg. The communities in and surrounding Soweto, studied were Riverlea, Diepkloof, Meadowlands and Doornkop, all of which are situated close to intensely mined areas. Soweto lies in a basin to the South and South-West and directly below the mines of the Central Rand, from Langlaagte and Crown Mines in the East through to Durban RoodepoortDeep (DRD) and Doornkop in the West. The research found that many residents of Riverlea, for example, are living on oxygen machines. The residents believe that dust from the nearby Mooifontein mine dump is contributing to the poor air quality that they experience, especially on windy days. The research report also shows that communities are not properly consulted before mining licences are issued and that their right to free, prior and informed consent and their right to say no to mining are serially ignored. DRDGold issued a statement immediately after the release of the report, and said, among other things "The comment is made that there are frequent spills into the Booysens River and surface streams in Diepkloof. This statement is factually incorrect and irresponsible. As far as DRDGOLD is concerned, a single leak occurred from one of its pipeline in the vicinity of the Russell Stream in February 2016."