Coronavirus cases in Free State

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South Africans urged to ‘respect human rights’ amid COVID-19 pandemic

This year’s Human Rights Day comes as the world is grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Coronavirus cases in Free State

Image via Adobe Stock

Parliament has urged South Africans to uphold human rights in the wake of the deadly pandemic currently gripping the world.

South Africa celebrates Human Rights Day on Saturday 21 March, with the day falling on a scaring period in modern history, amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, which has claimed over 11 000 lives worldwide.

Call to respect human rights

A statement was issued on the day by Parliament, calling for citizens to remember where they come from.

“This year South Africa celebrates human rights during a difficult time as the country and the world is gripped by a deadly virus, COVID-19, which the World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared a global pandemic,” the statement reads. “As we find ourselves battling with this pandemic, as South Africans, we must always remember who we are and where we come from as a society. We are a country that respects human life and bestows the right to a dignified existence to all. During this time, we must continue to treat each other with the same respect and dignified manner we have become known for as a country and society.”

South Africans urged not to spread fake COVID-19 news

South Africa has, as of Friday, 202 confirmed coronavirus cases with no reported deaths.

Parliament called for collective efforts to turn the tide against the pandemic.

“We are confident that MPs, as they go to their constituencies during this period, will spread the message of hope and further galvanise their constituencies behind active steps to help in curbing further infections, promote human rights and access to health care.

“We also want to call on all citizens not to fall into the trap of believing fake news during this time. Take time to scrutinise the sources of your information, as there have already been peddlers of misinformation, particularly on the internet, to cause panic and confusion during this time.”

Parliament has also not been spared from implementing the regulations announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa in his declaration of a national state of disaster.

The ban on public gatherings has heavily impacted proceedings at the national assembly.

“We invite all persons and businesses to heed the call by the president and take active steps to protect human life and contain the further spread of the virus in our society. All actions must be taken observing our laws guiding how we uphold human rights and dignity,” the statement said.


Well over 200 000 people have contracted the virus worldwide, with China and Italy the heaviest hit countries.