[Johannesburg, South Africa, July 13, 2021]. Brand South Africa calls on South Africans to play their part in protecting our country in line with our constitutional values. The violent demonstrations that are ravaging our communities cannot continue. They have culminated into criminal acts leading to the loss of lives and livelihood. Property is being destroyed.
Businesses are being looted and essential activities meant to service the most vulnerable have been destroyed. Chairperson of Brand South Africa’s board of trustees, Ms Thandi Tobias said: “This is a watershed moment in our democracy. We are saddened by the painful events that have been unfolding. Importantly, we send our heartfelt condolences to the families who have lost lives as a result of the violent protests in KwaZulu Natal and Gauteng. No protests should result in loss of life. We also empathise with business owners whose premises were looted and damaged due to criminal acts. This goes against our values as a nation and as President Ramaphosa said, this is not who we are.”
Ms Tobias said that South Africans across the 9 provinces should embrace the efforts of law enforcement authorities to restore order and protect lives. “We, therefore, call on citizens to exercise restraint and allow them to do their work and help shift our country back towards social and economic recovery.”
While Section 17 of the Bill of Rights in the Constitution guarantees that everyone “has the right, peacefully and unarmed, to assemble, to demonstrate, to picket and to present petitions,” this right comes with responsibilities. While our constitution makes provision for the right to protest, it also dictates that we must respect and uphold the rights of others to gain access to basic services.
Amid a global pandemic and the third wave of COVID-19 upon us, protests of any kind pose a life-threatening risk to all people living in our country. The lockdown restrictions on all gatherings except for funerals, were put in place as a key measure to suppress the transmission of the virus and thereby lessen the pressure on our already struggling healthcare system.
“Anyone who supports or embarks in illegal protests during the peak of the pandemic places millions of lives and families at risk. Now more than ever, our people need access to hospitals, pharmacies, retail stores for essentials such as food supplies. Moreover, the damage to property and vandalism adversely impacts the rollout of vaccines to many who desperately need it,” said Ms Tobias, adding that “the right to have access to health care services is a basic human right guaranteed by the Constitution. Section 27 of the Constitution provides that everyone has the right to have access to health care services, and no one may be refused emergency medical treatment.”
In this spirit, Brand South Africa calls for calm, peace, appreciation of our values as a people, particularly our spirit of generosity and kindness to others, ubuntu.
Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu! Motho ke motho ka batho babang!