What Human Rights Day means to us: SA celebs weigh in

By Shanaaz Prince
21 March 2014

Local celebs, model and mom, Jacinda Louw and eNCA sports reporter, Wardah Hartley, speak to YOU about what Human Rights Day means to them.

Today in 1960, police opened fire, without order, on a crowd that had gathered at the Sharpeville station to protest pass laws, stipulations that required Africans to carry books and produce them for law enforcement officials on request; 69 unarmed people were killed and another 180 were injured.  In 1994, this day officially was announced a public holiday in South Africa commemorating all those lives lost and for South Africans to embrace our basic rights as humans.

We spoke to local model and mother, Jacinda Louw on her take of what she feels about human rights.

Model and mom, Jacinda Louw with her youngest daughter, Sienna (4) PHOTO: Supplied Model and mom, Jacinda Louw with her youngest daughter, Sienna (4)
PHOTO: Supplied

"I think that most of the unrest and turmoil in country is as a result of our basic human rights not being attended to," she says.

"I am quite verbal and can't recall any of my human rights ever being violated but my biggest fear is for my kids. It's a little bit worrisome to me that we all have the right to protection and security, yet if someone enters my home or breaks in, I am expected to drive to the nearest police station to ask for help. I think there is a serious lack in basic human rights, especially regarding self-protection."

Check out what other local celebs like Graeme Smith, Dale Steyn and Minne Dlamini are doing with their day off.

Louw added that she thinks that, as a country, we need to improve on our human rights in terms of basic healthcare, police and security and education, all rights which are crucial in sustaining our democracy.

"If I were president for the day the first thing I would focus on would be our police force who are unfortunately underpaid. Together with a lack of moral infrastructure and a lack of education, corruption is rife. There is a massive divide between them and society and trust is lost. Respect between the two is crucial in order to provide an improvement in the sector," Louw added.

We also spoke to eNCA sports reporter, Wardah Hartley, who shared her most important human right as being the right of expression.

eNCA Sports Reporter - Wardah Hartley. PHOTO: Supplied. eNCA Sports Reporter - Wardah Hartley. PHOTO: Supplied.

"I think the most important human right is the right to expression, to be who you are in any way, shape or form and this encompasses everything from culture to religion, sexual orientation and even sense of style and fashion," Wardah tells us.

"I'm very happy to say that I don't think that any of my rights have been violated in any way and am so proud to say that in our country, especially after the 9/11 incident in the US when Islamaphobia was rife, in South Africa, my family and I have never experienced being treated differently as South African Muslim's and have never been questioned in our right to practice our religion."

Like Jacinda, Wardah agrees that many South Africans have been deprived of their basic human rights, particularly through public services and the growth in mass poverty across the country.

54 years down the line, as a country we have come a long way, but still have some way to go. Let's all stand together in achieving a better country for all. Happy Human Rights Day!

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