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President Jacob Zuma assures South Africans of right to security

CAPE TOWN South Africa (Xinhua) -- President Jacob Zuma on Tuesday led the nation in marking the Human Rights Day, assuring all South Africans of the right to security.

Addressing a rally in King William’s Town, Eastern Cape Province, Zuma used the opportunity to alleviate public concerns over high levels of crime in some communities.

“The Constitution says we all have a right to security. We are thus very concerned about the high levels of crime in some communities,” Zuma said.

Zuma pledged to build a South Africa that will enshrine the human rights of all, regardless of their class, gender or geographical location.

Such human rights include the right to security which is enshrined in the Constitution and Freedom Charter, Zuma said.

In 1994 when apartheid was brought to an end, the South African government declared March 21 as the Human Rights Day to remember the 69 people who were shot dead by the apartheid police during a peaceful march demanding free movement in Sharpeville, Gauteng Province.

The theme of Human Rights Day this year is Unity in Action in Advancing Human Rights.

Zuma said South Africans must accept that they have a problem of crime and must work together to fight this scourge.

South Africa has seen an unabated surge in crime. According to a survey released by Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) last month, more and more public places in South Africa have been deserted as rampant crime keeps people at home.

According to the survey, more than 40 percent of households headed by whites, Indians/Asians and coloured indicated that they do not go to open spaces or walk alone in parks as a result of fear of crime, with 30.4 percent of African/Black headed households indicating the same.

Housebreaking and home robbery are the most feared types of crime in South Africa, the survey shows.

In the past three weeks, Zuma visited some crime-stricken communities, including Nyanga in Cape Town to hear public complaints.

Communities indicated that they are tired of crime and being abused and bullied by gangs of criminals, Zuma said.

“Indeed, our people should not co-exist with crime. I have also been alerted to the problem of high crime rates in areas such as Lusikisiki and also Mthatha (both in Eastern Cape) where taxi violence has tragically claimed a few lives,” Zuma said.

He said police and relevant government departments are attending to these incidents.

“Crime in rural areas does not obtain the high profile as that in urban cities but it is equally traumatic for residents,” he said.

Zuma called upon police to act decisively against criminals who terrorize the people.

“We also urge communities to work with the police to create safer communities,” he said.

The government is holding anti-crime road shows, during which government officials are visiting communities to provide support and also ascertain what else can be done to eliminate thuggery, gangsterism and bullying by criminals in the country.

“We are following up on issues raised in the communities that we have visited so that people can see a difference in their lives,” Zuma said.



South Africa finalizing action plan against racism: Zuma

CAPE TOWN (Xinhua) -- Amid a surge in racism, the South African government is finalizing the National Action Plan against Racism and Related Intolerances, President Jacob Zuma said on Tuesday.

This plan will give further clarity and guidance to the government and to the broader South African society on the fight against racism and related intolerances, Zuma said at a rally to mark the Human Rights Day in King William’s Town, Eastern Cape Province.

On March 21, 1960, a total of 69 people were shot dead and scores injured by the apartheid police during a peaceful march demanding free movement in Sharpeville, Gauteng Province, an incident that shocked the whole world.

In 1994 when apartheid was brought to an end, the South African government declared March 21 as the Human Rights Day.

The theme of the day this year is Unity in Action in Advancing Human Rights.

“Sadly, the ideology of racism remains firmly entrenched among some in our population, and it represents one of the most despicable human rights violations,” the president said.

He was apparently referring to the recent spate of violence against foreigners in Pretoria and some other parts of the country. A massive march against foreign presence in the city took place on February 24 following attacks on foreigners.

Pretoria has previously been a hotbed for xenophobic attacks that regularly swept through the country, with community members breaking into shops, stealing stock and assaulting shop-keepers.

“We are, however, encouraged at the level of outrage that these incidents usually draw. It proves that South Africans are generally not tolerant of racism,” Zuma said.

In addition to the anti-racism action plan, the government had recently also published the Prevention and Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill, according to Zuma.

Once it becomes law, it will criminalize several forms of discrimination, including on the basis of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion and nationality.

“This Bill is a perfect illustration of the seriousness with which we view hate crimes in our country,” Zuma said.

South Africans mark Human Rights Day each year for important reasons, he said.

“We come from a history where there was a scant regard for fundamental human rights. It is most fitting that we pause annually, and remember the past so as to learn from it and never repeat its wrongs,” Zuma added.



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