Session with Final Year Class Potchefstroom University
Topic Human Rights in South Africa
Gwen had outlined the history of the Civil Rights Movement in the states and the
progress that had been made since the federal intervention to enforce their
fourens asked her to list some of the major violations of Human Rights that she
saw in the S.A. She listed (stressing that these were only some), the following :-
1. Detention without Trial
2. Delayjgg cixt sa in bringing to trial
4. the group areas act
5. segregated education she pointed out that "this was dangerous for a Cohesive
6. lack of the franchise i.e. no participation in JElxptkikiakxifex political
decision-making by majority of people.
The following questions and comments were asked/made
Q; Why pick on us? What about Russia etc?
Gwen: S.A. was the only country whersegregation on the grounds of colour was
enforced by law.
Q: MW Was there no awareness of the practical problems of integrated education
that it would lead to lower standards?
Gwen: This had not presented a major problem in the States
Q: How did one compensate for the social differences when integrating education?
Gwen: These went with more education
Q; People prefer to be with their own group
Gwen: In the States, 10% only prefer to go to the black colleges.
Q: Do you see Homeland Development as a basic violation of Human rights?
Do you regard this as Black segregation?
Gwen: The Homelands per se -no. Particularly if there was a genuine measure of
local control. But th+estraints from above, the restricted land, the lack
of rights for the fifty per cent of the population forced to live outside
that homeland were. The system of removals to homelands was a clear
violation of human rights.
Q: How had people reacted to the Brown Decision?
Gwen: Many people were violently opposed. Things were however coming right
The threat of losing Federal grants had been effective. The affirmative
action programme, backed up by federal monitoring was effective.
Q; What of the rights of those opposed to the Brown decision?
iwen: The sanctity of the courts and constitution was paramount
Q: But what about the right of those opposed to the decision in terms of life,
liberty and the pursuit of happiness?
Jwen: They had equality of opportunity which was of prime importance,
Qt Is everything equa necessarily good?
Gwen: That is the basic philosophy of theU.S. and the West. S.A. is allegedly
a Christian, democratic outpost'by4western standards it doesn't shape.
Qs What about the importance of ethnicity? Groups prefer to be together.
Different cultures should not be imposed on each other. Ther an be no interaction
if you cannot apply the same standard. Forced integration wad on the same level
as forced segregation
Gwen: Cultural differences become a non-issue with contact. The Southern
experience had shown that basic humanity was the important factor. The
streets in South Africa seemed perfectly successfully integrated.
Q: The U.S.A. had taken 200 years to reach this point. Why try and rush S.A.?
Gwen; S.A. has actually gone backwards. There is actually a tighter situation.
Except for some movement in Namibia, there was no genuine progress.
Qs What about local progress?
Gwen: This had no influence oahe national issues that the outside world saw
Q+ Surely with S.A. being not one nation but a collection of peoples) separate
education and development was justified?
Gwen: Blacks regard themselves as part of the South African Nation
Q; Why did the Senate of the U.S. not ban the export of torture implements
to kth S.A.f
Gwen: She was unaware that this was permitted.
Q: Were not the rights of the group pre-eminent over those of the individual?
Gwen: Individual rights were more important
Q:Human Rights concepts were unknown to Blacks. The Zulus would want to dominate
and there would be chaos.
Gwent properly constituted system they would not have the opportunity to
Q: What is your view on the Rhodesian situa ion
comment from floor: They waited to long)
Gwent The -ragedyof the Rhodesian situation was that goodwill between the race
groups had been lost
Q: When we+ low blacks to form organizations something like Inkatha emerges
which is a danger to us, with its narrow nationalism.
Gwen: The earlier organizations which were mixed were not as narrow,
Lourens du Plessis axkat : Human Rights are individual. Did Human Institutions
not have rights as well?
Gwent The Individual must always have protection against encroaching group rights
Q: If a man commits a crim+eeause it is essential to his happiness, surely this
should be permissible in terms of the American creed?
Violence and violations of the Constitution are nevr permissible.
The students ideas of the future.
1. Send Blacks to America.
2. Stickiconcept of Homelands with possibly greater federal rights
3. Deegatralisation of power, within a central economic structure a
4. More flexible homeland structure with a few changes here and there. Too
many basic differences in the way of anything else