The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in South Africa.
Brief description of the situation:
According to the information received, on March 22, 2016, at around 7.30 pm, Mr. Sikhosiphi Rhadebe was shot outside his house in Mbizana by two unidentified men. The two assailants, who came in a white Polo car with a rotating blue lamp on the roof, knocked at his door saying they were police officers. The human rights defender went out to speak with them and was shot eight times including in the head. His son witnessed the murder and was hospitalised along with Mr. Rhadebe’s wife, as both were in shock. An investigation into the murder of Mr. Rhadebe has reportedly been handed over to the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation.
An hour and a half before his murder, at about 6 pm, Mr. Sikhosiphi Rhadebe had called Ms. Nonhle Mbuthuma, ACC Secretary, to check on her safety, and had told her that he understood that both of them were on a “hit list” of strong opponents of mining operations, together with another ACC member, Mr. Mzamo Dlamini . The Observatory expresses its utmost concern for the safety of other ACC members.
For several years, members of the ACC, with the help of local residents, have resisted attempts by MRC, and its local subsidiary, TEM, to access the titanium-rich Xolobeni coastal dunes, arguing that the mining venture would lead to their forced removal from their land and threaten their livelihoods.
This murder is not the first episode of violence associated mining plans on the Xolobeni dunes. Opponents to the mine have been the victims of repeated acts of violence, including armed attacks against community members in May and December 2015 as well as intimidations and raids by police against opponents to the mine.
The Observatory strongly condemns the murder of Mr. Sikhosiphi Rhadebe and urges the authorities to adopt effective measures to ensure the protection of human rights defenders, including land and environmental rights defenders, in South Africa, and to conduct an immediate, thorough, impartial and transparent investigation into the above-mentioned events.
Please write to the authorities in South Africa, urging them to:
i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Ms. Nonhle Mbuthuma, Mr. Mzamo Dlamini, all ACC members as well as all human rights defenders in South Africa, including land and environmental rights activists;
ii. Carry out an immediate, thorough, impartial and transparent investigation into the above-mentioned events in order to identify all those responsible, bring them before an independent tribunal, and sanction them as provided by the law;
iii. Comply with all the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, in particular with:
its Article 1, which provides that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”;
its Article 12.2, which provides that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration”;
v. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by South Africa.
· President of South Africa, Mr. Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter: @SAPresident
· Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Ms. Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, Fax: + 27 12 329 1000, Email: email@example.com
· Minister of Justice, Mr. Tshililo Masutha, Fax: 012 406 4680, E-mail: Ministry@justice.gov.za
· Minister of Home Affairs, Mr. Malusi Gigaba, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
· Minister of Mineral Resources, Mr. Mosebenzi Zwane, Fax: +27 (12) 444 3145, Email: Queen.Poolo@dmr.gov.za
· Ambassador Mxolisi Nkosi, Diplomatic Mission of South Africa to the European Union in Brussels, Fax: +32 (0)2 514 78 03, Email: email@example.com
· Ambassador Abdul Samad Minty, Permanent Mission of South Africa to the United Nations in Geneva, Fax: +41 (0) 22 735 73 64, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please also write to the diplomatic mission or embassy of South Africa in your respective country.
Paris-Geneva, April 14, 2016
Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.
The Observatory, an FIDH and OMCT venture, is dedicated to the protection of human rights defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need.