Chapter 1 - The South African Constitution and Bill of Rights
Joe Mkhize applies to go to Welmoed High School. The school is only two blocks away from where he lives with his parents. At Welmoed High School most of the students speak Afrikaans and all of the lessons are in Afrikaans. Joe speaks a different language from the language used at this school. The School Board rejects his application. They say they only want Afrikaans-speaking people to come to Welmoed High School. They say it is their right to refuse to let him register. Joe's parents feel they have a right to send Joe to the school.
What are his rights?
The Bill of Rights in the Constitution says Joe has a right to attend Welmoed High School. Section 9: Right to equality, clause number 3 says he has a right not to be discriminated against on the basis of his language. Section 29 says he has a right to a basic education.
People do have a right to develop their own langauge and culture, but they cannot exclude people from a government school on the basis of their language or religion, or any other factor listed in the right to equality section of the Bill of Rights.
What can you do?
You can help Joe and his parents to make a complaint to the South African Human Rights Commission.
Mrs Jansen applied for an Older Person’s Grant three years ago. She has still not received a penny of this grant. The SASSA officer says he doesn't know why this is so. Mrs Jansen finds out that other people have also waited years for their grants. She believes that some people don't have to wait so long for their grants. Mrs Jansen wants to take action because she is desperate for the grant payments.
What are her rights?
The Constitution says the Public Protector can investigate state officials and their conduct if people believe they are abusing their powers or not doing their job properly. This is a case of misconduct on the part of the pension officer.
Mrs Jansen has a right to have access to information held by the state that will help her exercise her rights. She also has the right to just administrative action and to be given reasons why her grant has taken so long to arrive.
What can you do?
You can help Mrs Jansen make a complaint to the Public Protector.
Maria Johannes is a farmworker. She is a member of the Farmworker's Union. When she falls pregnant her employer tells her to leave and he employs someone else in her place. Maria is angry and she discusses this with other women on the farm. Many of the women feel angry because they only get work when it suits the farmer. They all agree that the farmer's actions are unfair and they decide to take further steps.
What are their rights?
The Constitution says there can be no discrimination on grounds of gender, sex and pregnancy. In this case Maria Johannes and the other female workers have been discriminated against.
The Commission on Gender Equality will protect people (men and women) who complain that they have been discriminated against because of their gender or sex.
What can you do?
You can help Maria Johannes and the other female workers make a complaint to the Commission on Gender Equality.
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