U.S. Department of State Country Report on Human Rights Practices 2000 - South Africa

South Africa is a multiparty parliamentary democracy in which constitutional power is shared between the President and the Parliament. The Parliament consists of the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces. President Thabo Mbeki leads the African National Congress (ANC) party, which holds 266 seats in the 400-seat National Assembly. The Parliament was elected in free and fair elections in June 1999; the Parliament, in turn, elected the President. The country continued to consolidate the democratic transformation initiated by the 1994 elections. The Government includes ministers from the ANC and the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) but is dominated by the ANC. The Democratic Party (DP) is the official opposition in the National Assembly. The judiciary, including the Constitutional Court, is independent.

The South African Police Service (SAPS) has primary responsibility for internal security, although the Government continues to call on the South African National Defense Force (SANDF) to provide support for the SAPS in internal security situations. The SAPS continued its major restructuring and transformation from a primarily public order security force to a more accountable, community service-oriented police force; however, it remained understaffed, overworked, and undertrained. The SANDF and the SAPS border control and policing unit share responsibility for external security. The Government continued to train and deploy the new Special Directorate of Investigations (SDI), dubbed "the Scorpions," to coordinate efforts against organized crime. Some members of these forces committed human rights abuses.

The economy continues to undergo important fundamental changes as the Government attempts to shift towards the manufacturing and services sectors and away from a focus on mining and commodities exports. The gross domestic product is $130 billion, of which manufacturing accounts for 18 percent, services 43 percent, and mining 6 percent. Agriculture, although only 4 percent of the gross national product, is an important source of export earnings. Since the fall of apartheid, foreign investors have used the country as a base of operations for economic expansion into the Sub-Saharan region. The economy is driven largely by market forces, although a lack of competition still exists in some sectors. For example, banking and mining remain tightly controlled by a handful of powerful corporations. Although a privatization program is underway, the State continues to hold majority stakes in the telecommunications, transport, and power sectors. The Government's Growth, Employment, and Redistribution macroeconomic program largely has been successful in controlling inflation and instilling discipline in government spending. Ownership of wealth remains highly skewed along racial lines. The disparity between skilled and unskilled workers is considerable, as is the income distribution gap between white and black, and urban and rural citizens. Official unemployment is approximately 23 percent, although figures are debated widely. A significant number of citizens, particularly blacks, are employed in the largely retail-oriented informal sector. The numerous social and economic problems that developed largely during the apartheid era are expected to persist for many years.

The Government generally respected the human rights of its citizens; however, serious problems remain in several areas. Some members of the security forces committed killings due to use of excessive force, and there were deaths in police custody. In addition to killings by security forces, there were an estimated 166 politically motivated or extrajudicial killings during the first 10 months of the year. The Government took action to investigate and punish some of those involved and to prevent future abuses. Political violence remained a problem; however, it was reduced from 1999 levels, both in KwaZulu-Natal and countrywide. Some members of the security forces were responsible for torture, excessive use of force during arrest, and other physical abuse. The Government took action to investigate and punish some of those involved. Prisons are seriously overcrowded. The judiciary is overburdened, and lengthy delays in trials and prolonged pretrial detention are problems. Violence against women and children, and discrimination against women and the disabled remained serious problems. Child labor, including forced child labor, is a problem. Vigilante violence and mob justice increased during the year. Trafficking in persons is a problem.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), created to investigate apartheid-era human rights abuses, make recommendations for reparations for victims, and grant amnesty for full disclosure of politically motivated crimes, continued its work on a large backlog of amnesty and restitution applications following the release of its 1998 report.


1. Respect for the Integrity of The Person, Including Freedom From

a. Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing

Police use of lethal force during apprehensions resulted in numerous deaths, and deaths in police custody also remain a problem. The Government took action to investigate and punish some of those involved and to prevent future abuses. The Government's Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD) investigates deaths in police custody and deaths as a result of police action. The ICD reported 511 deaths as a result of police action in the last 8 months of the year, including 186 that occurred while in police custody. These figures represent an increase in the monthly rate of deaths as a result of police action, compared with the estimated 450 deaths as a result of police action that occurred in the first 10 months of 1999. The ICD's report lists the subcategories under deaths in police custody, which include natural causes, suicide, injuries in custody, injuries prior to custody, and possible negligence. The ICD experienced greater cooperation from the police than in the previous year.

On April 10, police in Barkly East in the Eastern Cape province arrested six teenagers for a local burglary. In the course of the arrest, they dragged two of the boys behind their police vehicle, killing a 14 year-old boy. Three police officers were charged with murder, assault and related crimes; their trials were postponed until March 2001. The police officers were released on bail and suspended from duty pending their trials.

On July 30, SAPS members claiming to be searching homes for illegal weapons shot and killed an ANC Member of Parliament, Bheki Mkhize, in his parents' home in Mahlabathini. There was no indication that the officers had a warrant or that they attempted to search other homes in the area. Three officers were charged in the killing; they were released on bail in August, and an investigation into the matter was ongoing at year's end. ANC spokesmen alleged that the police were committing murders for the IFP, the ANC's political rival. There was in fact a consistent pattern of attacks and killings between members of both parties prior to the June 1999 elections.

The TRC continued to consider throughout the year amnesty applications involving apartheid era violence and killings (see Section 4). During the year, a number of applicants were granted amnesty, including Eugene de Kock, the principal of the apartheid government's Vlakplaas unit (although he remains in custody for other crimes); police officers who killed anti-apartheid activist Stanza Bopape; and the IFP members involved in a massacre in Boipatong. On September 7, the TRC granted 11 ANC guards amnesty for their participation in the 1994 killing of 8 IFP demonstrators (see Section 4). The application of Ferdie Barnard of the Civil Cooperation Bureau remained pending at year's end. Racial tensions in the military between white commanding officers and their black subordinates resulted in several killings during the year. In 1999 a black lieutenant killed six white officers at an army base in Tempe before he was shot and killed. In December 1999, The Ministry of Defense announced the formation of a commission of inquiry into the shootings and into racism within the SANDF in general; the final report had not yet been released by year's end. On July 10, a black platoon commander murdered his white company commander at an army base near Phalaborwa. On September 19, a black navy seaman shot and killed his white commanding officer at Simons Town naval base. Investigations into these killings were ongoing at year's end, but the Defense Minister stated publicly that racism was likely a motivating factor in the cases.

The South Africa Institute for Race Relations, a nongovernmental organization (NGO) concerned with political and extrajudicial killings, reported 166 politically motivated killings during the first 10 months of the year, most of which occurred in the province of KwaZulu-Natal, compared with 286 for the same period in 1999.

In 1999 7 persons were arrested for the 1999 murder of the general secretary of the United Democratic Movement (UDM), Sifiso Nkabinde, and 5 persons were arrested for a retaliatory attack after the murder in which 11 persons associated with the ANC were killed and several others were wounded. Seven suspects in the Nkabinde killing went on trial in March, and five were convicted in October. The trial of the five suspects in custody for the retaliatory attack is scheduled for March 2001. In November 1999, prominent Zulu leader and ANC member Prince Cyril Zulu, was killed by unknown persons. It is not known whether this was a politically motivated killing; a suspect was apprehended, but the trial had not begun by year's end.

The trial of Dr. Wouter Basson was ongoing at year's end. Basson was the head of the chemical warfare program under the former apartheid regime, and faces 61 charges including 30 counts of murder, fraud, and narcotics trafficking. During his trial, it was revealed that the former apartheid regime was involved in the murders of hundreds of members of the Namibian Liberation Movement between 1980 and 1987. The trial was ongoing at year's end.

There was no further action on the March 1999 killing in Cape Town of one ANC member and four UDM members.

A peace process continued between the IFP and the ANC, the two parties most closely associated with the political violence in KwaZulu-Natal. In May 1999, a special bilateral IFP-ANC Peace Committee signed a provincial code of conduct for peace, which was still in effect during the year. Although violence in KwaZulu-Natal remained higher than in other provinces, resulting in dozens of deaths during the year, including the killings of several ANC and local IFP leaders, there was an improved level of overall tolerance attributable to the IFP-ANC peace process, as well as an increased police presence. However, the committee established to enforce the provincial code of conduct received complaints regarding the intimidation of party members, primarily rural members. Some rural areas in KwaZulu-Natal that previously had experienced violence remained tense, although the overall level of violence continued to decrease. Factional and intraparty rivalry in the Nongoma area continued to cause deaths, and the authorities had limited success in solving the killings. The Public Order Policing Unit from Durban was moderately effective in calming tensions, but investigations continued to be handled by local authorities. There are several theories to explain the violence in KwaZulu-Natal, including a legacy of "warlordism" that fuels interparty conflict, and the actions of criminal elements involved in a Mafia-like illegal trade in drugs, arms, and wildlife. Some observers have blamed an undefined "third force," which allegedly combines criminal and conservative elements determined to undermine the new political order. Observers warn that the fact that the province has not yet been demilitarized and disarmed promotes the area's violence.

Violence in Richmond was reduced significantly during the year due largely to the replacement in 1998 of the regular police force in the area with a special, larger "public order police" force.

There were reports that five persons were killed in an incident that may have been politically motivated during the December 5 local elections in the East Rand area of Johannesburg. Nine suspects were arrested, and eight were charged with the killings. Although it is not known if the shooting was politically motivated, the shooting occurred near a polling place in an area with a history of interparty violence. Three of the eight suspects were charged with murder; they were denied bail and were being held in pretrial detention at year's end. Charges against two suspects were dropped; the other three suspects were charged with reckless endangerment while using a weapon and released on bail. A trial date had not been announced at year's end.

Taxi drivers in crime-ridden neighborhoods were responsible for a continuing series of attacks on rivals. Conflict between taxi companies led to gun battles and other street violence, and resulted in the deaths and injuries of bystanders in several cities. In Cape Town, taxi owners were believed to have instigated attacks and shootings of drivers working for the Golden Arrow bus company. Four drivers were killed and several other persons, including passengers, were injured in a series of attacks. In September one person pled guilty to the bus drivers' murders and was sentenced to 75 years in prison. No arrests were made in connection with the taxi violence in Cape Town that occurred in 1999.

Vigilante action and mob justice increased during the year. In Northern and Mpumalanga provinces, a vigilante group called Mapogo A Mathamaga has grown in membership and has opened offices in at least nine cities, including Pretoria. Mapogo members attacked and tortured, including beating with clubs and whips, suspected criminals, particularly targeting those they suspected of property crimes against their members. In November the Director of Public Prosecutions created a task team to investigate more than 200 cases attributed to Mapogo members in the Northern and Mpumalanga provinces, which included the crimes of kidnaping, murder, assault, and intimidation. In Eastern Cape, the Umfela Ndawonye group also killed and attacked suspected criminals in vigilante violence. People Against Gangsters and Drugs (PAGAD), an Islamic-oriented, community-based organization calling for stronger action against crime and drugs, continued to be suspected of acts of intimidation and violence against drug dealers and gang leaders, and against critics of its violent vigilantism. In September a PAGAD G-force (murder squad) member testified in court that in January he had been ordered by PAGAD leadership to attack a gang stronghold and kill gang members and drug dealers. The Minister of Justice and Minister of Safety and Security publicly charged that PAGAD G-force cells and members of Qibla, an Islamic-based political organization whose membership may share affiliation with PAGAD, were responsible for urban terror incidents in Cape Town throughout the year. These attacks included nine bombings (see Section 1.c.) that caused serious injuries but no deaths. No organization has claimed responsibility for the incidents. Authorities based their accusations against PAGAD on circumstantial evidence regarding attacks linked to PAGAD members' trials, including violence directed against particular courts and police officers, intimidation of witnesses, and the September murder of a regional court magistrate who was hearing PAGAD cases. Since November 1998, there have been 16 convictions and 14 acquittals of PAGAD members. Pending cases include 13 charges of murder, 63 charges of attempted murder, 10 charges for possession of explosives, and 18 charges for illegal possession of firearms. In December hundreds of cases were pending against PAGAD members in Western Cape courts, including 40 cases in which bail was denied to the accused. The Muslim community protested the infrequent availability of bail and staged periodic small-scale protests, criticizing the treatment of suspects as unfair compared with the judicial treatment of non-Muslims (see Section 2.c.). There were three sets of murder trials pending at year's end: Ebrahim Jeneker, Abdulla Maansdorp, and Ismail Maansdorp; Moegamat Zain Cornelson and Anees Adams; and Moegamat Isaacs. In August Ebrahim Jeneker and Ismail Edwards, alleged PAGAD members, were charged with the killing of a police captain who had been investigating PAGAD; the trial was pending at year's end.

Murders of farm families in rural parts of the country have received considerable media attention, but data on numbers of attacks have not been available since the SAPS declared an embargo on crime statistics in July (see Section 2.a.). AgriSA, an organization formed in October 1998 to represent farmers' interests, reported 804 attacks on farms and small holdings during the year, usually by black assailants, which resulted in 119 killings of farm owners, most of whom were white. There is widespread concern among white farmers that they are being targeted for racial and political reasons, although no evidence exists that the murders are part of an organized political conspiracy.

There were incidents of abuse and killings of black farm laborers by their white employers. NGO's claim that rural police and courts refuse to arrest or prosecute whites in many incidents. During the year, the HRC launched an investigation into allegations of abuse of black farmworkers, local justice system prejudice against farmworkers, and violence against white farm owners. The HRC report was not released by year's end.(see Section 4).

In December two guards were shot to death in Cape Town in what police believe was a strike-related attack (see Section 1.c. and 6.a.).

In the Northern province, where traditional beliefs regarding witchcraft remain strong, there were occasional reports of attacks on persons accused of witchcraft by their rural communities. Some survivors of attacks and their families were driven from their villages and were living in "witch villages" for safety. The Ministry of Safety and Security with the assistance of the quasigovernmental Commission on Gender Equality and traditional leaders, instituted programs to end violence against suspected practitioners of witchcraft. Traditional leaders cooperated with the programs and reported threats against persons suspected of witchcraft to the police. There reportedly were some prosecutions, although statistics were not available by year's end. Government officials claimed a decrease in attacks as a result of the programs; however, because of the embargo on crime statistics by the SAPS (see Section 2.a.) precise data were not available. There were reports of only one witchcraft related murder since 1997, compared with more than 500 between 1990 and 1995.

b. Disappearance

There were no reports of politically motivated disappearances caused by government authorities or agents.

c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment

The Constitution's Bill of Rights prohibits torture and cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment, and provides for the right to be free from all forms of violence from either public or private sources; however, some members of the police beat, raped, tortured, and otherwise abused suspects and detainees. Some incidents of torture and ill-treatment by the police and SANDF occurred during interrogation, arrest, detention and searches of persons' homes. The ICD reported 19 cases of torture and 9 cases of rape perpetrated by security forces between April and December; the Government investigated these allegations and prosecuted some offenders.

On April 10, police in Barkly East in Eastern Cape province dragged two boys behind a police vehicle during the course of making an arrest, killing a 14-year-old boy (see Section 1.a.). Three police officers were charged with murder, assault, and related crimes. The trial was postponed until March 2001; the officers were released on bail and suspended from duty.

In May some COSATU members reportedly clashed with police during a COSATU strike, and police used tear gas after the crowd reportedly threw stones (see Sections 2.b. and 6.a.).

On November 7, a video filmed in 1998 was broadcast on national television showing six white police officers beating and torturing three black illegal immigrants with vicious dogs while yelling racial insults. The officers were arrested and charged with assault and attempted murder, and suspended from duty; the investigation was ongoing at year's end. Several similar cases were reported to the ICD after the broadcast of the video. For example, in August police of the North Rand Dog Unit allegedly took seven Mozambican immigrants to a deserted field near Springs, ordered them out of the police vehicle, and attacked them with police dogs. After receiving medical treatment and being detained for several days in a police jail, the victims were taken to the Lindela Repatriation Centre and returned to Mozambique. Another Mozambican immigrant reported that a similar incident took place in October in the West Rand area. The ICD was investigating the incidents at year's end.

Incidents of police harassment and attacks against foreigners increased. Some state hospitals routinely refused treatment to indigent foreigners, despite regulations that required such treatment.

There were reports of police abuse of detainees awaiting deportation (see Section 2.d.). In December after a 2-year investigation, the Human Rights Commission (HRC) released a report assessing conditions at the Lindela Repatriation Centre, the largest detention facility for undocumented immigrants in the country. The report described abuses against detainees, which included long detentions, poor living conditions, xenophobia, abuse and corruption by officials, and sexual abuse of women. In December the HRC reported that the Department of Home Affairs had not responded to its recommendations, and, although the contractor operating the facility had improved conditions, Home Affairs officials continued to assault detainees and subject them to degrading treatment. On November 28, approximately 300 refugees demonstrated in front of the Department of Home Affairs to protest its refusal to process asylum applications for those applicants without certain documents. Some of the refugees alleged that Home Affairs employees assaulted them and requested bribes. The HRC sued the Department of Home Affairs to compel the processing of all applications by asylum seekers, as required by the 1998 Refugees Act; the case still was pending at year's end (see Section 2.d.).

Two officers who were filmed by the British Broadcasting Corporation as they beat suspected criminals in a 1999 documentary were fined and given suspended prison sentences on July 10.

In 1998 police at a Guguletu police station severely beat a Cape Town journalist, Thabo Mabaso, after he went to the station to report a traffic accident. The officers responsible were initially suspended, then reinstated and transferred to another police station pending their trial. On July 7, nine officers were charged for the beating. On August 30, six of the officers were acquitted; three were convicted and sentenced to prison terms ranging from 3 to 5 years.

The Government made efforts to address abuses with an official antitorture policy and training programs for police and SANDF officers. Broad efforts to reform police practices continued to reduce abuses, and the ICD investigates reports of police misconduct and corruption (see Section 1.a.). In November 1999, the SAPS Training Division initiated a human rights program; by September 15, over 15,000 of the estimated 90,000 targeted officers had undergone training. The largest number of officers have been trained in the Western Cape province, and officials credited the training with an increase in police disciplinary actions in the province.

The SAPS continued to undergo sweeping, mostly positive changes, including the institution of reforms designed to create partnerships between local police forces and the communities that they serve. Resignations and retirements of senior police officials have permitted the infusion of new personnel at senior levels, from both inside and outside the SAPS; these appointments also have served to promote affirmative action within the SAPS. However, the SAPS has been left with deficiencies in midlevel leadership, and institutional memory that have been harmful to its overall performance. The SAPS continued to be understaffed, overworked, and undertrained.

There was a consistent pattern of attacks and killings between ANC and IFP members in the province of KwaZulu Natal; however, the level of violence diminished during the year (see Section 1.a.).

There were a number of bombings during the year, which resulted in numerous casualties, including 9 pipe and car bomb explosions in Cape Town, for which no organization claimed responsibility (see Section 1.a.). This represents a decline from the 80 bomb explosions that occurred in 1999. Since November 1998, 16 PAGAD members were convicted and 14 were acquitted in connection with urban terror attacks (see Section 1.a.). In July D. Essop and R. Shaik were sentenced to 7 years in prison for possession of a pipe bomb.

There were incidents of abuse, including killings, of black farm laborers by their white employers, and NGO's claim that rural police and courts refuse to arrest whites in many incidents (see Section 1.a.).

There were a few illegal strikes that resulted in some worker violence, in particular incidents of intimidation and threats of violence by striking workers against nonstriking and replacement workers. In December during a legal strike of security guards, strikers used intimidation and violence against nonstriking and replacement guards and also against journalists covering the strike. Nonstriking security guards were harassed by groups of strikers while taking public transportation; the groups stripped them, forced them to lay down in dirt, and beat them. Two guards were shot to death in December in Cape Town in what police believe was a strike-related attack (see Section 1.a. and 6.a.).

Conflict between warring taxi companies led to gun battles and other street violence, and resulted in the deaths and injuries of bystanders in several cities (see Section 1.a.).

Vigilante action and mob justice resulted in attacks on suspected criminals and drug dealers, some of whom were tortured (see Section 1.a.).

Xenophobia is a growing problem. Xenophobia was expressed in institutional and social interactions with foreigners, particularly those from other African countries. There were a number of violent attacks on foreigners, including refugees and asylum seekers. Many of those attacked were hawkers and street vendors. Foreigners faced harsh reactions from antiimmigrant groups such as the Unemployed Masses of South Africa, which criticized immigrants for job losses, and in August demonstrated against employers who hired noncitizen workers. NGO's continued to encourage the Government to give equal access to health, education, and legal protection to foreigners. The U.N. High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR), the National Consortium on Refugee Affairs, and the Human Rights Commission (HRC) continued their "Roll Back Xenophobia" campaign to raise public awareness of the situation and rights of refugees and the difference between refugees and economic migrants. The campaign has produced publications and organized several public relations events.

Three suspects were arrested for a series of bombings in January 1997, including a mosque in Rustenberg that injured two persons; the trial concluded during the year, but the sentence was not announced by year's end (see Section 5).

Prison conditions do not always meet the country's minimum legal requirements. Food, especially for prisoners with HIV/AIDS and other medical problems, frequently is of poor quality and quantity. NGO's reported that prison employees steal food from prisoners. Although prisoners generally have access to health care, prison officials sometimes withheld prescribed treatment as punishment. Severe overcrowding in some prisons led to poor health; as many as 75 inmates may occupy a cell designed to hold 40 inmates. The Department of Correctional Services (DCS), which manages prisons, reported that in July there were 169,0000 prisoners in facilities designed to hold only 101,000. In September 8,262 prisoners awaiting trial but unable to post bail due to poverty were released in an effort to reduce overcrowding. There were abuses of prisoners, including physical and sexual assaults by prison employees and other prisoners. Press reports indicated that detainees awaiting trial contracted HIV/AIDS through rape. Male and female prisoners are held separately; however, female prison wards are often on the same grounds as male wards, and Amnesty International reported rapes of women by other prisoners.

Juveniles between the ages of 14 and 18 accused of serious crimes, including murder or rape, sometimes are placed in pretrial detention in prisons with adult offenders (see Section 5). DCS statistics from May documented that there were 27,638 youth offenders (prisoners under age 21), 4,253 of whom were 17 years of age or younger. Juveniles normally are not housed with adults; however, in August 200 juveniles under 18 years of age awaiting trial were transferred to secure care centers after it was discovered that they were detained with adult prisoners and receiving insufficient medical attention at Pollsmoor Prison near Cape Town. There were credible reports that youths from juvenile wards were sold to adult prisoners for purposes of rape. In June a 17-year-old prisoner died in Johannesburg prison after being repeatedly raped by adult prisoners.

In 1997 the Government commissioned the first of several planned "C-MAX" prisons in Pretoria. C-MAX prisons are designed to hold the country's most dangerous criminals. Human rights groups have raised serious concerns regarding C-MAX facilities, including the Government's criteria for transferring prisoners from other prisons to a C-MAX facility and the restrictive, solitary conditions of the prisons themselves. No additional C-MAX prisons were opened by year's end, but a new prison based on the C-MAX model was under construction and scheduled to begin operations in April 2001. Parliament passed legislation in late 1998 to restructure the prison service and bring prison law in line with the Constitution. Parts of the Correctional Services Act went into effect in 1998; although additional sections relating to the treatment of prisoners went into effect during the year, sections on parole board policy were not yet implemented. The parole boards still are staffed by lower ranking DCS employees, to which NGO's have attributed the low number of parole decisions and an exacerbation of the overcrowding conditions in prisons.

A Judicial Inspectorate for prisons began operations during 1999, and a number of civilian prison visitors were appointed throughout the country. Visits were conducted during the year; however, most visitors were not trained in legal matters. Those who received some training from NGO's generally were more successful in encouraging compliance with regulations on inmate treatment.

The Government generally permits independent monitoring of prison conditions, including visits by human rights organizations; however, only those organizations that are able to send legal practitioners are allowed to visit prisons. Other prisoners' rights organizations routinely are denied access.

d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile

The Bill of Rights prohibits detention without trial, and the Government generally respects this right in practice. It also provides that every detained person has the right to be informed promptly of the reasons for the detention; to be advised promptly of the right to remain silent and the consequences of waiving that right; to be charged within 48 hours of arrest; to be detained in conditions of human dignity; to consult with legal counsel at every stage of the legal process; to communicate with relatives, medical practitioners, and religious counselors; and to be released (with or without bail) unless the interests of justice require otherwise.

Courts and police generally respected these rights; however, there was a continuing problem with bringing detainees to trial expeditiously. According to the HRC, prisoners wait on average for 6 months to be tried in the regional courts and 6 months to 1 year in the high courts; however, in extreme cases detention may extend up to 2 years. This problem primarily is the result of an understaffed, underfunded, and overburdened judiciary (both magistrates and prosecutors), with more cases than can be handled efficiently (see Section 1.e.). Human rights groups, judges, and judicial scholars continued to express concern about the Criminal Procedure Second Amendment Act of 1997, which mandates minimum jail sentences and prohibits bail in certain cases, thus raising concern about judicial independence and civil liberties.

There were reports that authorities abused detainees awaiting deportation. In December the HRC reported that immigrants in Lindela Repatriation Centre experienced long detentions and abuse (see Sections 1.c. and 2.d.).

There were no reports of forced exile.

e. Denial of Fair Public Trial

The Constitution provides for an independent and impartial judiciary subject only to the Constitution and the law, and the Government respects this provision in practice.

Under the Constitution, the Constitutional Court is the highest court for interpreting and deciding constitutional issues, while the Supreme Court of Appeal is the highest court for interpreting and deciding other legal matters. Generally magistrates' courts and high courts are the courts of original jurisdiction in criminal cases.

Judges and magistrates hear criminal cases; the jury system was abolished in 1969. The presiding judge or magistrate determines guilt or innocence. The 1998 Magistrates Court Amendment Act made it compulsory to have a panel of lay assessors hear cases along with a magistrate in cases involving murder, rape, robbery, indecent assault, and assault leading to serious bodily harm. The two assessors may overrule magistrates on questions of fact. Magistrates also are required to use their discretion in using assessors in an advisory capacity in bail applications and sentencing. The Office of the National Director of Public Prosecutions (the so-called super Attorney General) exercises national control over prosecution policy and applies a consistent national policy for the prosecution of offenses. There are nine provincial directors and offices to coordinate and streamline prosecutions.

The Bill of Rights provides for due process, including the right to a fair, public trial within a reasonable time after being charged, and the right to appeal to a higher court. It also gives detainees the right to state-funded legal counsel when "substantial injustice would otherwise result." In practice the law functions as intended; however, a general lack of information on the part of accused persons regarding their rights to legal representation and the Government's inability to pay the cost of those services are continuing problems. There were serious backlogs in the numbers of cases that have gone to trial. In July the National Prosecuting Authority reported that there were approximately 140,000 cases awaiting hearings. There was public concern about the capacity of the criminal justice system to deal with the high level of crime, as well as the continuing political violence in KwaZulu-Natal and elsewhere. The resurgence of vigilante justice substantiates this concern (see Section 1.a.).

Some human rights groups expressed concern with parts of laws passed in 1997 that provided minimum sentencing guidelines and refusal of bail for certain serious offenses, stating that they would harm judicial independence and limit civil liberties. The law mandating minimum sentences came into force in 1998. The new bail law was upheld by the Constitutional Court in 1999. In December the South African Law Commission submitted a report to the Minister of Justice on the effects of minimum sentencing laws. The report showed that there remained disparities in the application of the sentencing guidelines, mostly at the regional level. Courts have the authority to depart from the guidelines if "substantial and compelling circumstances" justify it. Some human rights groups continued to have concerns about the effects of the minimum sentencing laws. The new laws have affected prison overcrowding by imposing an increased number of long-term prison sentences.

The Government and legal bodies have acted to redress historic racial and gender imbalances in the judiciary and the bar. The ranks of judges, magistrates, senior counsels, and attorneys are more reflective of society, although they still fall far short of a representative composition. The majority of judges of the Constitutional and High Courts remain white and male. Magistrates courts continue to face large case loads and a shortage of resources.

The TRC continued to investigate apartheid-era gross human rights abuses committed between 1960 and 1994, to grant amnesty to perpetrators of a broad range of politically motivated crimes, and to recommend compensation for victims of human rights abuses (see Section 4).

There were no reports of political prisoners.

f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence

The Constitution prohibits such practices, government authorities generally respect these prohibitions, and violations are subject to effective legal sanction.

On January 25, Parliament passed the Promotion of Access to Information Act. Although the purpose of the act was to increase transparency, opposition parties and human rights NGO's objected to it because it includes a broadly-defined provision that enables the Government to access individuals' personal information.

On July 30, SAPS members, claiming to be searching homes for illegal weapons, shot and killed an ANC Member of Parliament, Bheki Mkhize, in his parents' home in Mahlabathini; the officers reportedly did not have a warrant to enter the home (see Section 1.a.).

In 1994 the Redistribution of Land Rights Act established the Constitutional Land Court and the Commission on Restitution of Land Rights. The Land Court's mission is to settle cases previously screened and evaluated by the Commission. Claims only can be filed for land dispossessions following the promulgation of the Natives Land Act of 1913, although this does not include dispossessions that occurred in 1913, the year of the Government's most significant land redistribution in favor of whites. The various forms of compensation offered to claimants are the return of the original land, a deed to another piece of land, financial remuneration, or preferential access to government housing. A deadline of December 31, 1998 was set for receiving claims. There is no deadline for completion of the claim settlements, and the pace at which cases are moving is slow. By the December 1998 deadline, the Commission had received 67,531 claims; some claims represent several households. The Commission is scheduled to determine which claims are valid by the end of 2001. At year's end, 8,288 claims had been settled, allotting land or money to 20,473 households. A provision passed by Parliament in late 1997, allowed the Ministry of Land Affairs to offer settlements without first going to court, and has expedited the resolution process.

In May following land reform disturbances in a neighboring country during the year, the media reported on a series of farm occupations by landless farm workers in KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga. Subsequent information showed that there was no organized effort to seize land, and the occupations were by either longtime squatters or claimants frustrated by long delays from the Commission on Restitution of Land Rights. On May 10, President Mbeki stated before Parliament that the Government would not tolerate land seizures.

There were reports of persons accused of witchcraft being driven from their villages in rural communities (see Section 1.c.).There are three known villages in the Northern Province in which persons accused of witchcraft and their families were offered unused land by traditional leaders. The villages have no running water or electricity. Although some persons accused of witchcraft returned to their homes, many persons remained in the villages and requested government assistance for schools and basic infrastructure.

2. Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

a. Freedom of Speech and Press

The Constitution provides for freedom of speech and of the press, and the Government respects these rights in practice; however, these rights can be limited by law in some circumstances. Several apartheid-era laws that remain in force pose a potential threat to media independence. In addition, the Constitution bans the advocacy of hatred based on race, ethnicity, gender, or religion that constitutes incitement to cause harm. Nevertheless, the press criticizes both the Government and the opposition.

Several laws remain in effect that permit the Government to restrict the publication of information about the police, the national defense forces, prisons, and mental institutions. While these laws have not been employed often, journalists perceive them to be a threat to constitutional free press rights. The Criminal Procedure Act may be used to compel reporters to reveal their sources. In June 1999, the South African National Editors' Forum (SANEF) launched a media campaign to compel changes to legislation that restricts the free flow of information. In July 1999, SANEF and the Government reached an informal agreement to introduce safeguards to prevent the use of the Criminal Procedure Act against journalists; however, in September 1999 the Provincial Director of Public Prosecutions decided to invoke a section of the Criminal Procedure Act against an unnamed person. The Act reportedly was not invoked officially by year's end. The SANEF continued to push without success for a formal amendment of the Act that would ensure this agreement.

In June the National Police Commissioner announced that the Government would withhold the release of current crime statistics and other information to the public, on the grounds that crime statistics could not be verified and statistics-gathering methods were inaccurate. He stated that the embargo was temporary but did not set a date for it to be lifted. Judge Willem Heath stated that his anticorruption unit also would reduce the amount of information given to the public regarding the progress of his special investigations.

The Government used both legislative and structural means to encourage greater diversity in the media. The media offer a broad range of news, opinion, and analysis. Coverage of news and expression of opinion is vigorous. High-ranking government officials on occasion have reacted sharply to media criticism of government programs and problems, and have at times accused journalists, particularly black journalists and editors, of disloyalty. Some journalists express concern that the Government would like to control the media. A larger number of journalists believe that the Government's sensitivity to criticism causes self-censorship in the media.

In October police officers raided the offices of the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC), Reuters, the Associated Press, and the Mail & Guardian newspaper. Police confiscated material for use in the trial of PAGAD national coordinator Abdus-Salaam Ebrahim and three others in the killing of Rashaad Staggie (see Section 1.a.). On July 5, there were reports that government officials harassed two journalists who were covering a government staff protest. Officials temporarily confiscated a camera, notebook and documents, but later returned them.

All newspapers are owned by conglomerates. In early September, 50 percent of the Natal Witness Publishing Company was sold to the conglomerate Nasionale Pers (Naspers). This sale reflected the growing dominance of the newspaper market by a few companies that feature strong infrastructure and capital investment. One of the prominent companies, New Africa Media, is a black-owned consortium that controls the country's leading black-oriented newspaper, The Sowetan, as well as a major white-oriented publishing business, Times Media Limited. The Sowetan has the largest daily circulation in the country.

Print media reaches only about 20 percent of the population due to illiteracy, the lack of newspapers in rural areas, and the cost of newspapers. The majority of the population receive the news through radio broadcasts.

The government-owned SABC, a limited liability company, continues to own and control the majority of the television and radio outlets. In April the SABC was scheduled to be split into two operational units: a public broadcasting company and a commercial entity. However, the restructuring had not yet occurred by year's end, and the process is expected to take more than a year. At present the SABC is managed by black executives, provides broadcasting in the country's main African languages, and offers news coverage of the Government and the leading opposition parties. The SABC maintains editorial independence from the Government, although the balance between editorial independence and national interest remains a delicate issue with governmental officials; critics allege that top officials are chosen for political reasons without regard for media expertise or relevant experience. In February the outgoing SABC Board Chairman, Paulus Zulu, raised the concern that the SABC was "dictated to from above" when making editorial decisions.

The first commercial television station, E-TV, has been broadcasting for over 2 years. Although E-TV's signal reaches 75 percent of the population, E-TV's share is consistently only about 10 percent of viewers. Most of E-TV's schedule consists of newscasts and foreign-produced programs; the government is encouraging E-TV to meet its licensing conditions, which would require programming to include at least 30 percent local content. Majority ownership of E-TV is held by Midi Television, a black-owned consortium composed of a number of South African associations and syndicates representing workers, women, and disabled persons.

In addition to E-TV, the SABC competes with two pay-per-view broadcasters, M-NET (encoded UHF transmissions) and MultiChoice (direct from satellite broadcasts); several commercial radio broadcasters; and a large number of low-power, not-for-profit community radio stations. Government broadcast regulators have issued more than 100 community radio licenses since 1994; many of the 80 stations continue to experience financing and personnel retention problems. Nevertheless, community radio provides radio access for the first time to thousands of historically marginalized citizens, providing special event information and news tailored for specific interest groups.

Internet access is unrestricted for persons with the ability to pay for the service. The number of Internet users doubled during the year. All major newspapers maintain Internet sites, most of which are updated daily with the latest news and features.

In August the Human Rights Commission (HRC) published the finding of its investigation into racism in the media. The investigation examined selected publications over a limited period, looking at the issue of subliminal racism and the disproportionate representation of whites in media ownership and newsroom staffing. The Commission's report concluded that: "To the extent that expressions in the media reflect a persistent pattern of racist expressions and content of writing that could have been avoided, the media can be characterized as racist institutions." The report recommended workshops and conferences to sensitize journalists to the risk of racial prejudice in their reporting. This suggestion was supported by the SANEF and the Freedom of Expression Institute (FXI); however, both organizations were less receptive to the Commission's recommendation that a single regulatory authority be established for the media. Although the proposed authority would be funded and under the control of the media, SANEF and FXI assert that radio and television require different controls than newspapers. They are concerned that the Government's alleged attempts to silence expressions of dissent could eventually be codified into law.

A ruling by the Supreme Court in 1998 decreed that journalists who could prove that they had taken all the steps necessary to verify that the information they obtained was genuine and that the articles published as a consequence were reasonable and not negligent would not be liable for defamation. Media freedom advocates noted the ruling as an important change in the allocation of the burden of proof from the media to the plaintiff.

There are several government agencies with media-related responsibilities. Under the South African Communications Regulatory Authority Bill passed in May, the IBA and the South African Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (SATRA) were merged to form the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA). Under the new regulations, ICASA has less independence from the Ministry of Telecommunications than was previously granted to the IBA. Additionally the Minister of Telecommunications has a direct role in the awarding of telecommunication-service licenses. This role came under scrutiny during the extended bidding process for the third cellular license in the country after unsuccessful bidders for the cellular license alleged that the regulator unfairly recommended one bidder for the contract; they sued to have the decision's basis reviewed, but the case was not resolved by year's end. The Government Board of Censors reviews and passes judgment on written and graphic materials published in or imported into the country. The Board has the power to edit or ban books, magazines, movies, and videos. It regularly exercises that power, although with restraint. The Government Communications and Information Service (GCIS) was created in 1998 to coordinate and facilitate communications with the citizenry through its Directorate for Media Diversity and Development, which began operations in 1999.

In December during a legal strike of security guards, strikers used intimidation and violence against journalists covering the strike (see Sections 1.a., 1.c., and 6.a.).

There are no official restrictions on academic freedom.

b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

The Constitution provides for freedom of assembly, and the Government generally respects this right in practice. On May 9, police used tear gas while dispersing a COSATU strike after the crowd reportedly threw stones (see Section 6.a.).

The Constitution provides for freedom of association, and the Government generally respects this right in practice.

c. Freedom of Religion

The Constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the Government respects this right in practice.

The Constitution states that religious instruction at public schools is permitted so long as it is voluntary and religions are treated equally. Many public schools have dropped religious instruction in practice. In schools that do administer religious instruction, students have the right not to attend the religious instruction, and school authorities respect this right in practice. The current syllabus allows local boards to decide whether to include religious instruction in their schools. There are some private religious schools in which religious instruction is required.

Members of PAGAD complained that they were the targets of police brutality (see Section 1.a.). There was no indication that police targeted PAGAD members for investigation because of their religious affiliation.

d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation

The Constitution provides for these rights, and the Government generally respects them in practice.

The law contains provisions for the granting of refugee or asylee status in accordance with the 1951 U.N. Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol. In 1998 the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces passed the Refugees Act – framework legislation that codified the country's obligations under the U.N. Convention and its Protocol. The Act's regulations, which delineate actual government procedures and responsibilities, became effective in April. The Refugees Act stipulates that no person shall be expelled, extradited, or returned to any other country if they face persecution due to race, religion, or political affiliation, or when "his or her life, physical safety, or freedom would be threatened." The act also stipulates that designated refugees lose their status if they voluntarily return to their country of origin, take citizenship of another country, or if the circumstances that caused their flight from the country of origin change. However, the act stipulates that in order to renew their temporary residency permits, asylum seekers must return to the town in which they originally lodged their application to be recognized as refugees. Permits that are lost, stolen, or destroyed are not renewed. If found without a valid permit, asylum seekers are subject to arrest, detention, and deportation.

The UNHCR is assisting the Government in processing asylum applications. The regulations implementing the Refugees Act require the Department of Home Affairs to interview asylum seekers within 14 days of entry and to determine their status within 180 days of the interview; however, asylum application are not efficiently processed by the Department of Home Affairs due to poor management and insufficient resources. There were interview delays of up to 3 months, followed by a 6-month adjudication period, and under new procedures, applicants are prohibited from working or attending school until asylum is granted. Human rights groups have criticized the Department of Home Affairs for not following the provisions of the act. New applicants for asylum and NGO's assisting refugees reported abuse and assaults by immigration authorities and requests for bribes to process applications for permits to remain in the country (see Section 1.c.). On November 28, approximately 300 refugees demonstrated in front of the Department of Home Affairs to protest its refusal to process asylum applications for those refugees without passports. Some of the refugees alleged that Home Affairs employees assaulted them and requested bribes.

The Government cooperates with the UNHCR and other humanitarian organizations in assisting refugees. The Government provides first asylum, granting applicants the right to work and study. The Department of Home Affairs reported that as of November, 61,120 persons had applied for asylum since 1994. Of this number, 14,735 were granted asylum and refugee status, 24,177 were refused, and 16,053 were awaiting a decision. The majority of recognized refugees came from Somalia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Angola; there also were refugees from Rwanda, Burundi, and the Republic of the Congo. The majority of illegal immigrants come from Mozambique and Zimbabwe. Illegal immigrants are processed for deportation at a central facility, and sent back to Mozambique and Zimbabwe by weekly trains. Inadequate security on the trains allows many deportees to jump from the train en route, perpetuating the illegal immigration problem. Despite numerous procedural safeguards, efforts to combat a growing illegal immigration problem occasionally resulted in the wrongful deportation of aliens legally in the country. However, there were no reports of the forced return of persons to countries where they feared persecution. There were credible reports of overcrowded, unhygienic detention facilities; beatings by security personnel in detention centers; and the theft of money and personal possessions from refugees by security personnel.

In December after a 2-year investigation, the HRC released a report assessing the conditions at the Lindela Repatriation Centre, the largest detention facility for undocumented immigrants in the country. The report described abuses against detainees, which included long detentions, poor conditions, xenophobia, abuse and corruption by officials, and sexual abuse of women. In December the HRC reported that the Department of Home Affairs had not responded to its recommendations, and although the contractor operating the facility had improved conditions, Home Affairs officials continued to assault detainees and subject them to degrading treatment.

Xenophobia led to a number of violent attacks on foreigners (see Section 1.c.).

On November 7, a video taped in 1998 was broadcast on national television showing six white police officers beating and torturing three black illegal immigrants with dogs (see Section 1.c.).

3. Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens to Change Their Government

The Constitution provides citizens with the right to change their government peacefully, and citizens exercise this right in practice through periodic free and fair elections held on the basis of universal suffrage. In June 1999 national elections were held that observers deemed to be free and fair. There was an improved level of overall tolerance during the campaigning and voting period compared with the 1994 elections, attributable to IFP-ANC talks, as well as an increased police presence. Complaints primarily concerned posters being removed or defaced, individuals being threatened because of political affiliation, and other incidents of intimidation. The new Constitution went into effect in February 1997. Under its terms, the country retains a bicameral parliament, an executive state presidency, and an independent judiciary, including a constitutional court.

The 400-member National Assembly was retained under the Constitution. A National Council of Provinces (NCOP), consisting of six permanent and four rotating delegates from each of the nine provinces, functions as the second chamber of Parliament. The NCOP, created to give a greater voice to provincial interests, must approve legislation that involves shared national and provincial competencies according to a schedule in the Constitution. An 18-member Council of Traditional Leaders, which the Constitution accords an advisory role in matters of traditional law and authority, was inaugurated in 1997.

Two parties, the ANC and the IFP, continued to share executive power, although the ANC dominated the Government and gained in parliamentary strength in the 1999 elections. The ANC fills 24 of the 27 ministerial positions. In 1999 the ANC leader, Thabo Mbeki, succeeded Nelson Mandela as President and Head of State. As a result of the 1999 national elections, the Democratic Party (DP) replaced the New National Party (NNP) as the official opposition in the National Assembly. In June the DP and NNP, along with the Federal Alliance (FA), formed the Democratic Alliance, which is expected to consolidate into a single party as soon as electoral laws permit them to do so. The National Assembly also includes the UDM, the African Christian Democratic Party, the Pan Africanist Congress, the United Christian Democratic Party, the Freedom Front, the Afrikaner Unity Movement, the Azanian People's Organization, and the Minority Front.

Traditional leaders expressed concern over the redrawing of municipal boundaries in anticipation of nationwide municipal elections that were held on December 5. These leaders traditionally have held all of their subjects' agricultural land in trust for their subjects and have controlled many aspects of social and cultural life in rural areas. They claimed that the new demarcations split and diminished their hereditary status and power bases. They also complained that new municipal structures and legislatures denied them voting rights in local councils, which control development funds for local communities. Although some chiefs advocated a boycott of the December elections, most decided to participate based on an agreement with the Government to negotiate compromise legislation. Negotiations continued intermittently after the December elections; however, there was no agreement on legislation by year's end. There were very few reports of violence or irregularities during the December 5 local elections; however, in the East Rand area of Johannesburg, there were reports that five persons were killed in two incidents of violence that may have been politically motivated (see Section 1.a.).

There are no legal impediments to women's participation in government; however, women are underrepresented in government and politics. Of the 400 National Assembly members, 119 are women, while in the NCOP, 17 of the 54 permanent delegates are women. Women occupy three of four parliamentary presiding officer positions (speaker and deputy speaker of the National Assembly, and chair of the NCOP). Women hold 8 of 27 ministerial positions, as well as 8 of 13 deputy ministerial slots.

4. Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights

Human rights groups operate without government restriction, investigating and publishing their findings on human rights cases. Government officials generally are cooperative and responsive to their views. Many organizations participate in governmental bodies that seek to gather public input and to fashion policies related to human rights.

The government-created HRC is tasked with promoting the observance of fundamental human rights at all levels of government and throughout the general population. The HRC also has the power to conduct investigations, issue subpoenas, and hear testimony under oath. While commissioners were named in late 1995, the HRC's powers were not determined formally until May 1996. Following the August release of its report on the 1999 investigation into racism in the media, opposition parties again questioned the HRC's broad interpretation of its mandate and the impartiality of the Commission. During the year, the HRC began an investigation into allegations of abuse of black farmworkers, local justice system prejudice against farmworkers, and violence against white farm owners. The HRC report was not released by year's end.

The Office of the Public Protector investigates abuse and mismanagement by the Government, and acts as an office of last resort to which citizens report unfair treatment by government organizations. Such complaints generally take the form of concerns over lost pension checks or unfair hiring practices. The office handles an increasing number of complaints but is hampered by severe resource constraints.

Under its 1995 enabling legislation, the TRC was empowered to investigate apartheid-era gross human rights abuses committed between 1960 and 1994, to grant amnesty to perpetrators of a broad range of politically motivated crimes, and to recommend compensation for victims of human rights abuses. Due to the volume of work, the TRC's original 2-year mandate was extended to allow the continuation of amnesty hearings, and the TRC continued to operate freely throughout its 5th year. Its five-volume report was released in 1998, and a codicil is to be added upon completion of the amnesty process. In its report, the TRC found that apartheid was a crime against humanity, that the former apartheid regime was responsible for most of the human rights abuses during the era of its rule, and that the ANC and other liberation movements also committed abuses during their armed struggle. Following a court challenge in 1998, findings on former State President F.W. De Klerk were excised from the report, pending a hearing that has been postponed indefinitely.

By January 1999, 7,112 amnesty applications had been filed with the TRC; no new applications have been accepted since 1997. By September 287 cases remained outstanding, 136 of which remained unheard. An estimated 80 to 90 percent of all applications were from persons already incarcerated. In October 1999, the TRC began amnesty hearings on 10 former members of the Umkhonoto we Sizwe, the armed wing of the ANC, for their role in a series of 1986 bar bombings; the case was still pending at year's end. The killers of ANC activist Ruth First were granted amnesty, although relatives of First and other victims challenged the decision in court. During the year, the TRC granted amnesty to a number of other persons, including Eugene de Kock, the principal of the apartheid government Vlakplaas unit (although he remains in custody for other crimes); police officers who killed antiapartheid activist Stanza Bopape; and the IFP members involved in a massacre at Boipatong. The TRC still is considering former Minister of Law and Order Adrian Vlok's amnesty applications for several offenses. On September 7, the TRC granted 11 ANC guards amnesty for their participation in the 1994 killing of 8 IFP demonstrators.

The TRC report called for a reconciliation summit to be scheduled in 1999, but had not received a formal response from the Government by year's end. The TRC also called for increased counseling services for victims of trauma, and consideration of a mechanism for restitution, such as a wealth tax. Victims' groups such as Khulumani called for the Government to set aside $870 million (6 billion rands) for reparation funding according to the TRC formulas. The Government did not approve the TRC's recommendations for an overall payment formula for reparations, which include monetary compensation as well as community support and legal and symbolic reparations, by year's end. The Government had not resolved any of these matters by year's end; however, the processing of emergency financial reparation applications from eligible victims continued, with approximately $4.4 million (35 million rands) paid by year's end. During the year, interim assistance was given to those considered to be in the greatest financial difficulty. The TRC officially expressed concern regarding delays in implementing reparation measures, along with doubt about the level of government support for reparation funding.

In 1999 the Director of Public Prosecutions stated that his office had established a special unit to set up a process for proceeding against those persons who had failed to ask for amnesty or to whom amnesty had been denied. The unit would establish uniform criteria on which cases should be prosecuted; the criteria would include the strength of evidence available as well as the "implications for national reconciliation." The case against Dr. Basson is the first case pursued by this unit to go to trial (see Section 1.a.).

5. Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, Disability, Language, or Social Status

The Constitution prohibits discrimination on grounds of race, religion, disability, ethnic or social origin, color, age, culture, language, sex, pregnancy, or marital status. Legal recourse is available to those who believe that they have been discriminated against; however, entrenched attitudes and practices, as well as limited resources, limit the practical effect of these protections.


There is an extremely high rate of violence against women, including rape, assault and battery, and domestic violence. Police reported that the rate of reported rapes was 48.9 per 100,000 persons for the first 5 months of the year. The rate for 1999 was 47.5 per 100,000. The actual population figure and numbers of reported rapes were not published. According to a victims' survey study by Statistics South Africa, a government-related organization, only 47 percent of sexual crimes committed in 1998 were reported to the police. Women's groups estimate the reporting rate to be even lower. Entrenched patriarchal attitudes towards women are a significant factor in underreporting. Abused women have difficulty getting their cases prosecuted effectively and also often are treated poorly by doctors, police, and judges.

The 1998 Domestic Violence Act defines victims of domestic violence, facilitates the serving of protection orders on abusers, provides places of safety for victims, allows police to seize firearms at the scene and arrest abusers without a warrant, and compels medical, educational, and other practitioners working with children to report abuse immediately. The 1993 Prevention of Family Violence Act defines marital rape as a criminal offense, and it allows women to obtain injunctions against their abusive husbands and partners in a simpler, less expensive, and more effective manner than under previous legislation. However, the implementation process is inadequate, as some police are reluctant to enforce the act. As a consequence, a limited number of women filed complaints under the law, despite government and NGO efforts to increase public awareness of it. At year's end, the parliamentary monitoring committee on women's affairs was completing consultations with NGO's and local and national government officials regarding defects in the domestic violence laws, preparing a report for the relevant ministries on how the legislation can be modified to ensure more effective implementation, and focusing on efforts to ensure that the budget oversight process included greater emphasis on the effects of government programs on women. While some progress was made, the number of shelters for battered women remained insufficient. The SAPS continued to operate 46 Family Violence, Child Protection, and Sexual Offenses units, which deal specifically with these issues and which are intended, in part, to increase victims' confidence in the police, thereby leading to increased reporting of such crimes. However, these units often were hampered by a lack of training among officers. During the year, the Government began a training program for these units.

Female immigrants and asylum seekers were sexually abused during detention. The Lindela Repatriation Centre, the largest facility for the detention of undocumented immigrants in the country, has no special facilities for women, and although male and female detainees resided in separate sections of the Centre, they often used common facilities (see Section 2.d.).

Discrimination against women remains a serious problem despite legal and constitutional protections, particularly in areas such as wages, extension of credit, and access to land. Progress was made in bringing customary law in line with constitutional provisions. The 1998 Recognition of Customary Marriages Bill recognizes customary marriages, both monogamous and polygynous, but it does not address religious marriages, which are not recognized by the law. However, the bill was not implemented by year's end. The bill includes a number of safeguards for women and children, including requiring a minimum age of 18 and the consent of both spouses to enter into such marriages and a court decree to dissolve them. The bill also addresses inequities of property arrangements under some customary laws. The 1998 Maintenance Bill, the final section of which was enacted into law during the year, tightens procedures for child support payments and improves the ability of caregivers, most of whom are women, to collect maintenance payments from partners. Other legislation, such as the Employment Equity Act, which includes both antidiscrimination and affirmative action provisions, and the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, address discrimination against women in the workplace. The legislation reportedly has resulted in an improvement in the numbers of women in professional and technical positions, although it has not had as much effect at the management level. The 1997 Interim Protection of Informal Land Act protects persons who have insecure and informal rights and interests in land; many women are in this category.

Polygyny continues to be practiced by several ethnic groups. Exacting a bride price ("lobola") also is a traditional practice of some ethnic groups.

Recent studies have shown a connection between women and the likelihood of poverty. A women's NGO reported that female-headed households have a 50 percent higher incidence of poverty than male-headed households; that a high proportion of working women live in poor households; and that 61 percent of the elderly poor are women.

A number of governmental and nongovernmental organizations monitor and promote women's rights. The Office on the Status of Women, located in the Deputy President's office, coordinates departmental gender desks, which develop strategies to ensure integration of gender concerns in policy and planning. The Commission on Gender Equality (CGE), a constitutionally mandated body, is authorized to investigate allegations of gender discrimination and make recommendations to Parliament on any legislation affecting women. As with some of the other statutory watchdog bodies, the CGE continued to be hampered by a lack of funding. There were reports that women are trafficked into the country for forced prostitution (see Section 6.f.).


The Constitution stipulates that children have the right "to security, education, basic nutrition, and basic health and social services." The Government remains committed to providing these services and has made some progress toward developing the mechanisms for delivering them, including improvements in the provision of education and a campaign against child abuse. However, the demand for such services far outstrips the resources available.

The 1996 Schools Act and the National Education Policy Act provide greater educational opportunities for disadvantaged children – traditionally black children – through a uniform system for the organization, governance, and funding of schools. It mandates compulsory education from ages 7 to 15 and ensures that children cannot be refused admission to public schools due to a lack of funds. According to the Department of Education, approximately 90 percent of 7 to 15-year-olds and 83 percent of 16 to 19-year-olds are enrolled in school. The school funding formula, based on norms and standards tied to physical resources and performance, devotes 60 percent of nonpersonnel resources toward the 40 percent most needy schools. Each of the nine provincial departments of education has responsibility for the schools in their provinces, which has resulted in the uneven distribution of educational facilities. The disparity has affected the areas of Eastern Cape, the Northern Province, and KwaZulu-Natal most severely. The availability and quality of primary schooling still is a problem, especially in rural areas where schools may not be easily accessible or children may have to work (see Section 6.d.). To address this problem, the Government continued to build some new schools, introduce basic skills development and prevocational training into the curriculum and, in some cases, develop plans to provide food for disadvantaged children.

Student populations on university campuses are becoming more representative of the general population, with previously all-white universities reaching out to recruit students from black and colored communities. The enrollment of black students had risen to 41 percent in 1999 at the nation's top five universities.

Social programs known as "Presidential Initiatives," which were included in the Government's Reconstruction and Development Program, continued to receive government support. These initiatives offer free health care to pregnant women and to children under 6 years of age and provide nutritious meals for primary school children.

In December 1999, a Cape Town High Court heard a case brought by residents of a squatter camp petitioning for government-provided housing. The court ruled that the children in squatter camps have a constitutional right to housing and, thus, are entitled to state-provided shelter. The court also ruled that the children have a constitutional right to family and therefore, have the right to be accompanied by their family members in the state-provided shelter. The Constitutional Court, the country's highest court, held hearings on the case in May, and ruled that the Government had failed to carry out its obligation to provide housing, but did not rule specifically on the constitutional rights of children to housing. Violence against children remains widespread. While there has been increased attention to the problem by the Government, the public, and the media, a lack of coordinated and comprehensive strategies to deal with violence crimes continues to impede the delivery of needed services to young victims. Reports of child rape have increased significantly, as have reports that men are committing rape due to a growing myth that having sexual intercourse with a virgin can cure HIV/AIDS.

Traditional circumcision rituals still are practiced on teenage boys in rural areas of the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal and resulted in the hospitalization, mutilation, or death of several boys and young men. The provincial department of health reported at least 18 deaths, 5 mutilations, and 42 hospitalizations during the summer initiation season that began in September. In December provincial health authorities began to regulate the practice by requiring the presence of trained medical personnel during the rituals.

Female genital mutilation (FGM), which is widely condemned by international health experts as damaging to both physical and psychological health, still is practiced in some rural areas of the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal, although it is not thought to be widespread. The Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act of 2000 specifically prohibits FGM as unfair discrimination; however, that provision had not been implemented by year's end.

Child prostitution is on the rise, primarily in Cape Town, Durban, and Johannesburg. There reportedly has been an increase in the number of children who live on the streets, and observers believe that this circumstance has contributed to the growing number of child prostitutes. The child sex industry increasingly has become organized, with children either being forced into prostitution or exploited by their parents to earn money for the family (see Sections 6.c., 6.d., and 6.f.). The 1999 Child Care Amendment Bill, which was implemented in January, prohibits the commercial sexual exploitation of children.

Parliament passed legislation in 1995 prohibiting the detention of unconvicted juveniles in prisons, police cells, or lock-ups. A 1996 law gave courts limited discretion to detain in prison 14 to 18-year-old children who were awaiting trial for serious crimes such as murder or rape. The measure was expected to be temporary pending the establishment of "places of safety," also called "secure care centers," for the detention of juveniles. However, due to delays in the establishment of such centers, provisions of the 1996 law lapsed. Amid concerns that dangerous juvenile offenders were being released to return to the streets, additional legislation was passed in 1998 to regulate limited pretrial detention of juvenile offenders accused of serious crimes. The law states that any child under the age of 14 must be released within 24 hours into the custody of a parent or guardian when possible. In August 200 juveniles awaiting trial were transferred to secure care centers after it was discovered that they were being held with adult prisoners and receiving insufficient medical attention at Pollsmoor prison near Cape Town (see Section 1.c.). Immigrant children detained in the Lindela Repatriation Centre received the same general treatment as adult detainees, were not provided with separate sleeping facilities from adults, and were not always provided with food and clothing by the facility (see Sections 1.c. and 2.d.).

There were reports that children were trafficked for forced prostitution and forced labor (see Section 6.f.).

People With Disabilities

The Constitution prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability. Society is increasingly open to the concept of persons with disabilities as a minority whose civil rights must be protected. The Government attempts to ensure that all government-funded projects take account of the needs of disabled citizens. However, in practice government and private sector discrimination against the disabled in employment still exists. According to an NGO, the Affirmative Action Monitor, fewer than two-thirds of companies target the disabled as part of their affirmative action programs. The law mandates access to buildings for the disabled, but such regulations rarely are enforced, and public awareness of them remains minimal. The Employment Equity Act requires private firms with more than 50 workers to create an affirmative action plan with provisions for achieving employment equity for the disabled. The National Environmental Accessibility Program, an NGO comprising disabled consumers as well as service providers, has established a presence in all nine provinces to lobby for compliance with the regulations and to sue offending property owners when necessary.

Religious Minorities

Relations between the various religious communities generally are amicable. However, there is a concern among some Christians about the perceived growing influence of political Islam. Reports of violence perpetrated by PAGAD have fueled these concerns.

PAGAD portrays itself as a community organization opposed to crime, gangsterism, and drugs; however, it is known for its violent vigilantism (see Section 1.a.). PAGAD is a multifaith movement, although its orientation is Islamic and the vast majority of its members are Muslim. PAGAD is most active in the Western Cape, but also has branches elsewhere in the country. Surveys indicated that some two-thirds of Muslims supported PAGAD soon after its inception in 1995, but that figure has dropped significantly since. While PAGAD continues to lose support when it is linked to violent acts, it gains sympathy when high-profile incidents occur that are perceived by the Muslim community to have been acts of discrimination against Muslims.

There were occasional reports of killings linked to the continued practice of witchcraft in some rural areas (see Section 1.a.). In the Northern Province, where traditional beliefs regarding witchcraft remain strong, officials reported dozens of killings of persons suspected of witchcraft. The Government has instituted educational programs to prevent such actions.

In December 1998, a synagogue in Wynberg was bombed. Four suspects were arrested, and their trials were scheduled to be heard in 2001.

In January 1997, a mosque in Rustenberg was damaged in a series of bombings that also struck a post office and a liquor store. In September Pieter Nel, Christian Harmse, and Pierre Jacobs, believed by authorities to be affiliated with the right wing Afrikaaner Weerstandsbeweging group, were convicted on charges that included attempted murder, possession of explosives, and sabotage, and were sentenced in September to prison terms ranging from 16 to 19 years.

Indigenous People

The Constitution provides for the recognition of "the institution, status, and role of traditional leadership," and requires the courts to "apply customary law when that is applicable, subject to the Constitution and any legislation that specifically deals with customary law."

The Constitution further permits legislation for the establishment of provincial houses of traditional leaders and a National Council of Traditional Leaders to deal with matters relating to traditional leadership, the role of traditional leaders, indigenous and customary law, and the customs of communities that observe a system of customary law. Six provinces have established houses of traditional leaders. Under the terms of the Constitution and implementing legislation, the National Council of Traditional Leaders was inaugurated in 1997. The Council is to advise the Government on matters related to traditional authorities and customary law. However, much work remains to be done to integrate traditional leadership and customary law into the formal legal and administrative system. No agreement had been reached by year's end (see Section 3).

National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

The Constitution and Bill of Rights prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, ethnic or social origin, or culture. The Government continued efforts to reorganize and redesign the educational, housing, and health care systems to benefit all racial and ethnic groups in society more equally. The Employment Equity Act of 1998 prohibits discrimination on 19 grounds and requires companies with 50 or more employees to ensure that previously disadvantaged groups – defined as blacks, women, and the disabled – are adequately represented at all levels of the workforce. By December all such companies were required to submit affirmative action plans to the Department of Labor. In October the Minister of Labor stated that senior management positions in 2,170 large employers (those with 150 or more employees) that reported on time and in the correct format reported 28 percent blacks and 24 percent women in those positions. This result indicated no significant change from baseline figures recorded in 1998. Blacks and women comprise 79 percent and 40 percent, respectively, of the economically active population. The employers cited a lack of training and development, poor recruitment processes, and an antagonistic corporate culture as the main impediments to affirmative action. No figures are available on the disabled. The armed forces have struggled with the process of integrating blacks into the predominantly white officer corps (see Section 1.a).

Xenophobia led to a number of violent attacks on foreigners (see Sections 1.c. and 2.d.).

The continued killings of mostly white farm owners by black assailants created concern among white farmers that they were being targeted for racial and political reasons (see Section 1.a.). There also were reports that white employers abused and killed black farm laborers, but avoided penalty due to collusion with the authorities (see Section 1.a.).

On August 30, the Government sponsored a 3-day National Conference on Racism in Johannesburg, which was organized by the HRC, NGO's, and government representatives. Approximately 1,000 citizens and 20 international visitors attended.

6. Worker Rights

a. The Right of Association

The Constitution provides for freedom of association and the right to strike, and these rights are given statutory effect in the 1996 Labor Relations Act (LRA). All workers in the private sector are entitled to join a union. Workers in the public sector, with the exception of members of the National Intelligence Agency and the Secret Service, also are entitled to join a union. In 1999 the Constitutional Court struck down the prohibition on members of the National Defense Force joining a union, although they still may not strike. No employee may be fired or discriminated against because of membership in or advocacy of a trade union. Union membership in the private sector has continued to decline steadily in the last few years as a result of job layoffs and declining employment, including in sectors that have been heavily unionized, such as mining. However, some public sector unions have experienced growth. Total union membership is approximately 3.3 million persons, nearly 35 percent of those employed in the wage economy.

The largest trade union federation, COSATU, is aligned formally with the African National Congress and the South African Communist Party (SACP). Several ANC members of Parliament and of the Cabinet have a COSATU leadership background, and the current premier of Gauteng, the country's richest province, is a former COSATU general secretary. COSATU's largest rival, the Federation of Unions of South Africa (FEDUSA), is an apolitical, multiracial federation that was formed in 1997 by merging several smaller worker organizations. A relatively minor labor federation, the National Council of Trade Unions (NACTU), is independent of any political grouping. Some unions do not belong to any federation.

The LRA is designed to create an industrial relations regime that is stable and recognizes that basic worker rights need to be protected. The act, which applies to both the public and private sectors, protects workers against unfair dismissal, recognizes their right to form trade unions, provides for the right to strike, and establishes a simple set of procedures that protect striking workers from the threat of dismissal. Essentially, for a strike to proceed, all that is required is that a dispute be referred for conciliation. There is no time limit on conciliation efforts; however, if conciliation fails to resolve the dispute, or lasts more than 30 days, a trade union is entitled to advise an employer of intent to strike so long as it gives 48-hours notice to a private sector employer or 7-days notice to a state employer. Organized labor also has the right to engage in "socioeconomic protest," whereby workers can demonstrate, without fear of losing their jobs, in furtherance of broader social issues. The LRA also allows employers to hire replacement labor for striking employees, but only after giving 7 days' notice to the striking trade union. Employers have the right to lock out workers if certain conditions are met. The LRA applies to public as well as private sector workers. Public sector employees, with the exception of essential services and the three components of the security services, also have the right to strike. Strikes by workers in essential services, for example, police and hospital workers, are prohibited. If disputes between workers in essential services and their employers cannot be resolved though collective bargaining or conciliation, they are referred to arbitration.

COSATU held a 1-day nationwide general strike on May 10 which was the culmination of a 3 1/2 "rolling mass action," consisting of lunchtime demonstrations and successive provincial-level strikes building up to the general strike, to protest job losses throughout the economy. Some COSATU members reportedly clashed with police during the strike, and police used tear gas after the crowd reportedly threw stones. There were a few illegal strikes that resulted in some worker violence, including a strike against a Volkswagen manufacturing facility in Eastern Cape in January and an illegal strike of municipal workers in Johannesburg in July (see Section 1.c.).

There were incidents of intimidation and threats of violence by striking workers against nonstriking and replacement workers. In December during a legal strike of security guards, strikers used intimidation and violence against nonstriking and replacement guards and also journalists covering the strike. Nonstriking security guards were harassed and beaten by groups of strikers while taking public transportation. Two guards were shot to death in Cape Town in what police believe was a strike-related attack (see Section 1.a.).

The Government does not restrict union affiliation with regional or international labor organizations. COSATU, FEDUSA, and NACTU are affiliated with the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU).

b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively

The law defines and protects the rights to organize and bargain collectively. The Government does not interfere with union organizing and generally has not interfered in the collective bargaining process. The LRA statutorily provides for "organizational rights," such as trade union access to work sites, deductions for trade union dues, and leave for trade union officials, which strengthens the ability of trade unions to organize workers.

Union participation as an equal partner with business and government in the National Economic Development and Labor Council, a tripartite negotiating forum, ensures a direct voice for labor in the formulation of economic, social, and labor policy.

The LRA allows for the establishment of workplace forums that are intended to promote broad-based consultation between management and labor over issues such as work organization, corporate downsizing, and changes in production processes. The forums, in order to receive statutory protection, can be established by trade unions only in businesses with more than 100 employees. Although trade unions in a few factories have established workplace forums, the intent of the law is to build wide support within the trade union movement and business for such cooperative workplace relationships.

Although 1994 labor laws protected farm workers, the COSATU-affiliated South African Agricultural, Plantation and Allied Workers' Union (SAAPAWU), and the NACTU-affiliated National Union of Farmworkers have encountered difficulties trying to organize farm workers, because union organizers are considered trespassers on private property. There were many incidents of physical abuse of farm workers, non-payment of wages, and other forms of arbitrary treatment (see Section 1.a.). During the year, the Department of Labor conducted a survey on the prevailing conditions in the agricultural sector, which was ongoing at year's end.

To further reduce the adversarial nature of labor relations, the LRA also created a Commission for Conciliation, Mediation, and Arbitration (CCMA). Since its inception in 1996, the CCMA has resolved successfully many disputes referred to it and remains critical to the emergence of a less confrontational business climate. The CCMA also gradually is beginning to play an interventionist role by becoming involved in disputes before they deteriorate into full-fledged strikes or lockouts. A labor court and a labor appeals court are other important creations of the LRA. The labor court has jurisdiction to resolve disputes that the CCMA is unable to mediate to the satisfaction of both parties. Notwithstanding the existence of the CCMA and specialist courts for labor disputes, the aim of industrial relations is to minimize the need for judicial intervention in labor relations, leaving it to the contending parties to resolve disputes whenever possible.

There are no export processing zones.

c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

Forced labor by adults is illegal under the Constitution; however, there were reports that smugglers used the country as a transit and destination point for trafficking in persons for the purposes of forced prostitution and forced labor (see Section 6.f.). The Constitution prohibits forced child labor; however, there were reports that children were trafficked, forced into prostitution, or exploited by their parents to earn money for their families (see Sections 5 and 6.f.). A 1999 survey conducted by Statistics South Africa reported that up to 2,000 children work to pay off outstanding debts to employers or obligations to their landlords (see Section 6.d.).

d. Status of Child Labor Practices and Minimum Age for Employment

The Basic Conditions of Employment Act of 1997 makes it a criminal offense to employ a child under 15 years of age. It is a criminal offense to employ a child between 15 and 18 years of age if such employment "places at risk the child's well-being, education, physical or mental health, or spiritual, moral or social development." This policy is enforced effectively in the formal nonagricultural sector and less effectively in other sectors by Department of Labor inspectors, who are required to ensure that all of their inspections address child labor problems. The inspectors attempt to resolve any problems by counseling employers, child workers, and parents, and by cooperating with the Departments of Welfare and Education. Criminal prosecution is reserved for "extreme circumstances," and there have been no prosecutions to date.

Many children, especially in the rural areas of the former "homelands" where electricity and running water are rare, are expected to help with household chores and school maintenance. According to a survey conducted by Statistics South Africa in 1999, 45 percent of children between ages 5 and 17 worked for 1 hour or more per week in an economic activity, 5 hours or more per week in school labor, or 7 hours or more in household chores. The most common economic activity in which children participated was gathering wood and water for domestic use, which occupied 4.5 million of the 13.4 million children between the ages of 5 to 17 years for 1 hour or more per week. Of the 2 million children who spent at least 1 hour per week in activities for pay, profit, or family economic gain, 59 percent were involved in agriculture and 33 percent in trade. A survey noted that of the 13.4 million children between the ages of 5 and 17, 17.8 percent were engaged in subsistence farming, 5.3 percent in services, 0.4 percent in manufacturing, 0.1 percent in transport, 0.1 percent in informal finance, and 0.05 percent in construction and mining.

Child laborers from Zimbabwe and Mozambique work in the country on commercial farms, for the taxi industry, or as domestic servants.

Child prostitution is a growing problem in metropolitan areas (see Section 5). NGO's estimate that there are 10,000 children working as prostitutes in Johannesburg and at least 1,000 in Cape Town. Along trucking routes child prostitutes are sought after because of the belief that they are more likely to be disease-free or that, if they are virgins, sex with them cures diseases such as HIV/AIDS (see Section 5). The Government previously had established a task force to develop a plan of action to combat the sexual exploitation of children, and has created training courses for the police force and the judiciary regarding the problem.

The Government has stated that it is committed to abolishing child labor through new legislation and improving the enforcement of current child labor laws. In 1998 the Department of Labor established a Child Labor Inter-sectoral Group (CLIG) composed of representatives of trade unions, employers' organizations, NGO's, and officials of the Departments of Labor, Welfare, and Education. The CLIG debates policy options and ensures coordination of initiatives between these different groups.

Following the Government's ratification of International Labor Organization Convention 182 on the Worst Forms of Child Labor in June, the Department of Labor began provincial consultations in order to develop and complete a comprehensive program of action to implement the convention.

The Constitution prohibits children under the age of 18 from participating in armed conflict. The minimum age for military recruitment is 17 years.

Forced or bonded labor by children is illegal under the Constitution; however, there were reports that children were trafficked, forced into prostitution, and that some children work in conditions that amount to bondage (see Sections 5, 6.c. and 6.f.).

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work

There is no legally mandated national minimum wage. Unionized workers in the formal sector of the economy set wage rates on an industry-by-industry basis through annual negotiations with employer organizations. Such wages generally are sufficient to provide a decent standard of living for a worker and family. In those sectors in which workers are not organized sufficiently to engage in the collective bargaining process, the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, which went into effect in 1998, gives the Minister of Labor the authority to set wages, including, for the first time, for farm laborers and domestic workers. However, income disparities between skilled and unskilled workers and the income distribution gap between rural and urban workers mean that many workers are unable to provide a decent standard of living for themselves and their families.

The Basic Conditions of Employment Act standardizes time-and-a-half pay for overtime, establishes a 45-hour workweek, and authorizes 4 months of maternity leave for women. A ministerial determination exempted businesses employing fewer than 10 persons from certain provisions of the act concerning overtime and leave.

Occupational health and safety issues are a top priority of trade unions, especially in the mining and heavy manufacturing industries. Although attention to these issues has increased significantly, including passage in 1993 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, the country's industrial and mining processes are dangerous and sometimes deadly. Government attempts to reduce mining fatalities culminated in the 1996 Mine Health and Safety Act, which went into effect in January 1997. The act provides for the right of mine employees to remove themselves from work deemed dangerous to health or safety. Moreover, it establishes a tripartite mine health and safety council and an inspectorate of mine health and safety, which is tasked with enforcing the act and monitoring compliance with its provisions. The act specifically makes it an offense for a company to discriminate against an employee who asserts a right granted by the act (for example, to leave a hazardous work site) and requires mine owners to file annual reports that provide statistics on health and safety incidents for each mine being worked.

There are no laws or regulations in other industries that permit workers to remove themselves from work situations deemed dangerous to their health or safety without risking loss of employment; however, the Protected Disclosures Act protects employees from retaliation who, with "reasonable belief that the health or safety of an individual has been, is being, or is likely to be endangered," disclose dangerous workplace conditions to the appropriate authorities. f. Trafficking in Persons

The Alien Control Act prohibits trafficking in persons; however, the country is a transit and destination point for the trafficking of persons from Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Thailand, and other countries for forced prostitution and forced labor. Women and children reportedly are lured into the country by international organized crime syndicates with the promise of jobs and decent wages, and then forced to work as prostitutes, in some cases to pay off debts to those who smuggled them into the country. Women from Thailand, China, and Russia were trafficked into the country for prostitution by Chinese and South African organized crime syndicates. While many of these women come willingly, some claim that they were tricked into coming, or that they were forced to continue working as prostitutes until they had paid off the cost of their transport.

The country is also a transit point for trafficking operations between developing countries and Europe, the United States, and Canada. Migrants from foreign countries, particularly China, India, the Middle East, Eastern European countries, and other African countries, are lured to the country with accounts of money and jobs in the West. Once in the country they are provided with documentation and accommodation before being moved on to final destinations, where they are forced into prostitution, drug dealing, or other criminal activity, or forced to work in factories as virtual slaves until they pay off the debt of their travel expenses. Traffickers apparently have identified the country as one in which temporary entry permission often is granted, fraudulent documents are easy to obtain, and direct flight and shipping routes are available to most countries in the developed world.

The Government made efforts to address the trafficking problem with investigations and arrests by the police. These efforts are hampered by police corruption, lack of training, and understaffing. In February police discovered prostitutes from Thailand, Bulgaria, Russia, the Czech Republic, Romania, and Zambia at a brothel near Johannesburg, and arrested the owner. Some of the women were returned to their home countries, and the case against the owner was ongoing at year's end. The courts generally deal with trafficking through deportations and fines, rather than exacting criminal penalties.

This report is submitted to the Congress by the Department of State in compliance with sections 116(d) and 502(b) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (FAA), as amended, and section 504 of the Trade Act of 1974, as amended. The law provides that the Secretary of State shall transmit to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Senate, by February 25 "a full and complete report regarding the status of internationally recognized human rights, within the meaning of subsection (A) in countries that receive assistance under this part, and (B) in all other foreign countries which are members of the United Nations and which are not otherwise the subject of a human rights report under this Act." We have also included reports on several countries that do not fall into the categories established by these statutes and that thus are not covered by the congressional requirement.

This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.