HAPPY Human Rights Month! 2023 marks the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations. The theme for Human Rights Month in South Africa is ‘Consolidating and sustaining human rights culture into the future’. The theme is befitting when we remember the historic peaceful march on 21 March 1960 where apartheid police massacred unarmed people who were protesting the pass law in Sharpeville.
As we join the world in commemorating Human Rights Month, I encourage eThekwini residents to take the time to read the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as we work towards its 75th anniversary commemoration on 10 December 2023. As we continue to fight for equality, we draw inspiration from the progress that we have made in advancing the agenda for basic human rights. This has been done by providing basic services to the people of eThekwini. The Municipality has achieved an unqualified audit opinion for the past five years, including the 2021/22 financial year. Even though the City experienced budget cuts, in the 2021/22 financial year- as part of our Constitutional mandate and in line with basic human rights-we were able to achieve 8 213 new water connections. We are now sitting at 92.67 percent of residents with access to running water.
It is also worth mentioning that in eThekwini, we have 68.60 percent of indigent households receiving free basic services of water and 95 percent of households have access to a basic level of refuse removal service once a week. The above statistics are a demonstration that even though we are not where we want to be in terms of delivering services, we are working towards improving the lives of eThekwini residents. Human Rights Day serves as a constant reminder to City leadership to work to improve the lives of all, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds. As we continue to break down the barriers that divide us, we must build a City that is tolerant of all. We have a collective responsibility to fight racism whenever it rears its ugly head.
We must be mindful of the fact that racism is not only a threat to our democracy, but it is a barrier towards transforming our country and City as envisaged in the Constitution. Meanwhile, we were saddened to learn of the senseless killing of 24-year-old Luyanda Cele whose lifeless body was found mutilated and dumped in South Beach recently. Cele, who hailed from uMlazi, was an intern at the Municipality’s Occupational Health and Safety Unit. She had recently graduated from the University of KwaZulu-Natal before joining the Municipality. It is alleged that Cele left work at 4pm last week Friday, 17 March to have drinks.
I convey my deepest condolences to the family, friends, and colleagues of Cele. She was young and had a bright future ahead of her. She has been prevented from reaching her full potential as her life has been cut short. I call on the police to leave no stone unturned to find her killer. I strongly condemn this senseless killing and I urge police to ensure that the person who has committed such a heartless crime, faces the full might of the law.