South Africa Still a Long Way Off in Building a National Culture of Human Rights

The month of March marks several opportunities for reflections on the challenges relating to the realisation of social justice, human rights and equality at international and national levels, and how this deficit is widening exponentially in South Africa. The country celebrates International Women’s Day on March 8, and Human Rights Day on 21 March 21, commemorating the 63rd anniversary of the Sharpeville Massacre, when police opened fire on a students’ protest march against the pass laws, killing 69 people. Twenty-four years on, the South African experience gives credence to the view that human rights operate better at the rhetorical level and that there still remains an inability or unwillingness to translate the lofty rhetoric of human rights into tangible benefits for the poor and marginalized, including undocumented migrants.