Human Rights Commission bids farewell to Kollapen

2009-09-17 14:34

THE mood was upbeat this afternoon as the South African Human

Rights Commission (HRC) bid farewell to its chairperson Jody Kollapen who will

be leaving the commission at the end of this month together with four other

commissioners because their term of office has expired.

In terms of the HRC Act, commissioners can only serve two terms.

Kollapen joined the commission in 1996 as a commissioner and became chairperson

in 2002.

Reflecting on his chairpersonship, he said he was happy that the

commission had placed human rights at the centre of society. He said for him,

the cases of ANC Youth League chairperson Julius Malema and Cosatu’s Zwelinzima

Vavi were challenging.

In 2008, Malema told an ANC rally in the Free State that the youth

was prepared to die in support of Jacob Zuma.

A week later Vavi supported Malema’s comments.

“Malema and Vavi created a lot of challenges for us because we were

not only dealing with human rights issues. It was more a political issue than

anything,” said Kollapen.

Malema told the commission he would never use the word “kill” again

in public utterances and Vavi later expressed regret over his comments.

Kollapen said though South Africans are aware of their rights,

there was a lot that still needed to be done to educate the poor and the

vulnerable about human rights.

“It is worrying that only 67% of South Africans know their rights.

A lot of ground work has to be done to improve the figure.”

Other commissioners who will be leaving are Zonke Majodina, Karthy

Govender, Tom Manthata and Leon Wessels.

Some of the dignitaries in attendance were Unisa Vice Chancellor

Barney Pityana, Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke and Deputy Minister of

Justice and Constitutional Development Andries Nel.

Kollapen is planning to join the legal fraternity or be an


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