Feb. 28, 2017

South Africa communications: May 1, 2011 to February 28, 2017

This page summarizes cases raised with South Africa by the Special Rapporteur between May 1, 2011, (when the Special Rapporteur took up his functions) and February 28, 2017 (the date of the last public release of communications). Communications are released to the public once per year. This page also contains observations on these communications and on responses received from South Africa.

Communications and observations are divided into sections based upon which observation report they originally appeared.

Each communication is referenced as urgent appeal (UA), allegation letter (AL), joint urgent appeal (JUA) and joint allegation letter (JAL) – the hyperlinks lead to these documents. This is followed by the date the communication was issued, as well as the case number and the State reply (also hyperlinked if available).

Summaries and communications are published only in the language of submission (in the case of South Africa, English).

First Report (May 1, 2011 to March 15, 2012)


Second Report (March 16, 2012 to February 28, 2013)


Third Report (March 1, 2013 to February 28, 2014)


Fourth Report (March 1, 2014 to February 28, 2015)


Fifth Report (March 1, 2015 to February 28, 2016)


Sixth Report (March 1, 2016 to February 28, 2017)

  1. Joint allegation letter, Case no. ZAF 1/2016 State reply: None Alleged assassination of an environmental human rights defender.


Responses to communications
The Special Rapporteur regrets not having received a response to his communication. He considers responses to his communications to be an important part of the cooperation of Governments with his mandate, in line with Human Rights Council resolutions 24/5 (2013), 21/16 (2012) and 15/21 (2010).

Environment in which these rights are exercised
The Special Rapporteur reiterates his concerns regarding the the assassination of Mr. Rhadebe, which appears to be directly related to his role as chair of the Amadiba Crisis Committee (ACC), his legitimate work in the promotion of human rights, the protection of the rights of the Xolobeni community in the Eastern Cape, and in this regard the exercise of his right to freedom of association and to freedom of expression in opposition to the mining operations in the area. The Special Rapporteur stresses that there is a pattern of acts of intimidation and violence and assassination of activists for expressing their opposition to the titanium mining operations in the Xolobeni area by Mineral Commodities Limited (MRC), a mining company registered in Australia, and its local subsidiary, Transworld Energy and Minerals (TEM). Mr. Rhadebe is the fifteenth opponent of the mining venture to be killed, including other members of ACC.

The Special Rapporteur emphasizes that the right to life should be guaranteed by States to all individuals under all circumstances and at all times, including in the context of the exercise of the rights to freedom of association and of peaceful assembly, as prescribed by article 6 of the ICCPR ratified by South Africa on 10 December 1998.

The Special Rapporteur believes that the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association play a key role in opening up spaces and opportunities for genuine and effective engagement by civil society in decision-making processes across the spectrum of natural resource exploitation activities. These rights help foster increased transparency and accountability in the exploitation of resources and are basic prerequisites for the ultimate goal of securing substantive rights. Peaceful assembly and association rights can facilitate constructive dialogue, which is necessary given the shared interests and sometimes competing priorities that are intrinsic to exploiting natural resources (A/HRC/29/25, par 10).

He recalls that States are obligated to protect and facilitate the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association in the context of natural resource exploitation, including by ensuring that business interests do not violate these rights. To discharge their duties in that respect, States should, among other things, enact robust national laws that stipulate the rights and responsibilities of all, create independent and effective enforcement, oversight and adjudicatory mechanisms, ensure effective remedies for violations of rights and promote awareness of, and access to information about, relevant policies and practices related to natural resource exploitation (A/HRC/29/25, par 14).

He urges the authorities to inform him of the results of the investigations of the circumstances leading to Mr. Rhadebe’s death as soon as possible, as well as to open investigations, if none have already been opened, into the killings of the other human rights defenders.

For the full reports, containing communications, replies and observations for all countries, see the following links:

Report A/HRC/20/27/Add.3: May 1, 2011 to March 15, 2012

Report A/HRC/23/39/Add.2: March 16, 2012 to February 28, 2013

Report A/HRC/26/29/Add.1: March 1, 2013 to February 28, 2014

Report A/HRC/29/25/Add.3: March 1, 2014 to February 28, 2015

Report A/HRC/32/36/Add.3: March 1, 2015 to February 28, 2016

Report A/HRC/35/28/Add.4: March 1, 2016 to February 28, 2017