HUMAN RIGHTS IN SOUTH AFRICA: AN ASSESSMENT
Keywords:constitutional structures, autocratic rule, democratic governance, pre-democratic legal order
In the 20 years that have passed since the Langa Massacre on 21 March 1985, the South African legal system and the constitutional system that underpins it have changed in most fundamental ways. This paper examines the constitutional structures of 1985, and of 2005, and traces South Africa’s progress from autocratic rule to democratic governance, from a system in which fundamental rights were routinely violated to one in which they are constitutionally protected. It examines a selection of issues that defined the pre-democratic legal order and looks at how those issues have been dealt with in the new dispensation. It concludes that “what
we have achieved so far in creating a society that respects human rights and freedoms stands as an enduring monument – albeit one continually in the process of being built – to all those, such as the victims of the Langa Massacre, who lost their lives in the quest for a better future”.
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