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Social Secu­rity

Social Security

South Africa’s Con­sti­tu­tion (1996) includes the right to have access to health care ser­vices, suf­fi­cient food and water, social secu­rity, and other basic ser­vices. In a series of rul­ings the country’s Con­sti­tu­tional Court has held that eco­nomic and social rights are judi­cially enforce­able, and that the Gov­ern­ment is con­sti­tu­tion­ally oblig­ated to have in place a “rea­son­able” pro­gram for their ful­fil­ment. 

The goal of the LRC’s Social Secu­rity work con­tin­ues to be to use the law, either by means of lit­i­ga­tion or through law and pol­icy reform, to ensure imple­men­ta­tion of the State’s oblig­a­tion to sup­port those who are unable to sup­port them­selves and their depen­dants. 

Health care is an area of major con­cern. This is par­tic­u­larly so in the light of the fact that sub-Saharan Africa remains dis­pro­por­tion­ately affected by HIV and AIDS. There are also many new chal­lenges, such as child-headed house­holds and the pro­tec­tion and cus­tody of orphans. 

Social grants are a par­tic­u­lar focus of our work because less than 50% of South Africans who are eli­gi­ble for the grants actu­ally receive them. The prin­ci­ple obsta­cles to the rolling out and dis­burse­ment of social grants are non-budgetary, and include the lack of clear guide­lines, dif­fi­culty in deter­min­ing eli­gi­bil­ity, and dis­crim­i­na­tion against HIV-positive indi­vid­u­als who seek a dis­abil­ity grant. 

Vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple, such as the aged, dis­abled and child-rearing, qual­ify for social assis­tance under the Social Assis­tance Act (“SAA”). Healthy peo­ple between the ages of 15 and 60 do not qual­ify for any relief, even though they may be liv­ing in com­plete des­ti­tu­tion. 

The pro­tec­tion and pro­mo­tion of the human rights of pris­on­ers in South Africa is another area of focus. The cur­rent sit­u­a­tion of pris­on­ers in South Africa is that they are detained in pris­ons, which are grossly over­crowded. Young offend­ers mix in the same cell as adult offend­ers. Over­crowd­ing con­tributes to the fol­low­ing abuses and breaches of pris­on­ers’ rights:

  • Inad­e­quate health­care
  • Increased prison gangs
  • Inad­e­quate secu­rity for pris­on­ers
  • Lack of mean­ing­ful reha­bil­i­ta­tion oppor­tu­ni­ties

The num­ber of await­ing trial pris­on­ers and the lengthy time taken for the crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem to process their cases is a vio­la­tion of rights and a form of impris­on­ment with­out trial. In the IPJ Annual Report 2005, the IPJ Office found that there were 52,326 pris­on­ers who were await­ing the com­mence­ment or final­i­sa­tion of their tri­als. 13,880 of these ATPs are in deten­tion because they are too poor to pay their bail. In 7 of these cases, the bail set was less than R50. A total of 9,311 ATPs are detained because they are unable to pay fines of less than R1000

Another area in which the State is required to shoul­der respon­si­bil­ity and that has raised a great deal of con­cern is that of the treat­ment of refugees and asy­lum seek­ers.






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National Offices

Tel: +27 11 836 9831
Email: info@lrc.org.za

Address: 15th and 16th Floor, Bram Fis­cher Tow­ers,
20 Albert Street, Mar­shall­town, Johan­nes­burg
PO Box 9495, Johan­nes­burg 2000

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