For the benefit of those who may not know, SECTION27 is a public interest law centre that seeks to achieve substantive equality and social justice in South Africa. Guided by the principles and values in the Constitution, SECTION27 uses law, advocacy, legal literacy, research and community mobilisation to achieve access to healthcare services and basic education – it aims to achieve structural change and accountability to ensure the dignity and equality of everyone.
The evening comprised of a panel discussion moderated by SECTION27 board member as well as TV and radio presenter, author, activist, production company owner and columnist Redi Tlhabi. The panellists gave insightful accounts of the significant work that SECTION27 does to advance, in particular, the right to access to quality education, health care services, equality and human dignity. It was humbling to get a first -hand account of the challenging but incredible work that SECTION27 does in advancing the fundamental human rights of vulnerable members of our society many of whom live in the forgotten parts of South Africa.
One of the panellists, in articulating the nature of the work SECTION27 does spoke about the case they brought on behalf of the late Michael Komape’s family and their ground-breaking work in fighting to ensure adequate sanitation at schools in the Limpopo province. On 20 January 2014, Michael Komape stepped out of his Grade 1 classroom to use the outside pit toilet at Mahlodumela Primary School, near Polokwane, Limpopo. His body was later found in the pit after he fell into the dilapidated, collapsed school toilet. He suffocated and drowned in other humans’ waste with all his dignity stripped. Michael was only five-years-old. Section27’s support for the Komape family encapsulates the essence of the invaluable assistance it provides to countless poor and marginalised people.
SECTION27 Executive Director, Umunyana Rugege, spoke on the difficulties faced by civil society organisations in securing funding and explained how the lack of funding from South African corporations hinders the NGO sector’s development and that it was both a pity and a shame that civil society organisations have to rely on foreign funding in advancing human rights in the country.
NGOs play a vital role in ensuring democracy and the rule of law and are the voice of the voiceless. They also provide an important check against the abuse of governmental power. It is therefore important that firms like ours not only support civil society’s incredible efforts in advancing human rights but are also seen to be doing so. This is another of the many reasons why hosting this event was important. After all, despite our corporate nature firms like CDH will always be measured by their contribution to promoting the fundamental rights of our society’s most vulnerable members. A special thank you to the firm’s CEO, Brent Williams, for his ongoing commitment to supporting SECTION27, and for his inspiring opening remarks in which he reminded us that we all bear a collective responsibility to ensure social justice. His words set the tone for the evening. Thank you also to all those who attended and supported this event.
Thank you also to all those who attended and supported this event.