Right to protest should not infringe on the rights of others

With the country due to commemorate Human Rights Day tomorrow, President Cyril Ramaphosa says South Africans should recall that the rights they enjoy today are the result of great sacrifices.

In his weekly newsletter to the nation, he said the right to protest should not infringe on the rights of others. The President said that South Africans should be clear that the right to protest does not give anyone the right to harass, intimidate or threaten anyone else.

He added that it does not give anyone the right to damage property or cause harm to any person.

“One person’s right to protest should in no way infringe on any other person’s right to life and dignity. It should not impede their freedom of movement and association, or their right to engage in their trade or profession without hindrance,” he said on Monday.

The President’s comments come as the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) have embarked on a national shutdown.

“The rights that are enshrined in our Constitution cannot be taken for granted. Too many lives have been lost and too many people have suffered so that we may all be protected by a Bill of Rights that applies to all laws and that is the cornerstone of our democracy,” the President said.

The President said that as South Africans remember the events of 21 March 1960, when 69 peaceful protestors in Sharpeville were killed by the apartheid police, they need to be resolute in their defence of the right to peaceful protest.

The President emphasised that the Constitution is clear that the state must “respect, protect, promote and fulfil” all the freedoms contained in the Bill of Rights.

“Therefore, just as the state has a duty to uphold the right to peaceful protest, it has a responsibility to prevent any attempt to violate any of the other rights in the Constitution.

“It is well within the right of any person or organisation to call on fellow South Africans to freely join in acts of protest. But no-one should be forced, threatened or intimidated into joining that protest,” the President said.

In fulfilment of its constitutional responsibility to protect the rights of all people, the President said that government will always have measures in place to ensure that everyone who wants to go to work, travel for leisure and conduct business can do so in a safe and secure environment.

He said these measures include the deployment of security personnel across the country to ensure that law is observed.

The President emphasised that government will not allow anyone or any group to take the freedoms enshrined in the Bill of Rights away from them. –SAnews.gov.za

Source: South African Government News Agency