While the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) condemns the widespread looting and vandalism of property recently witnessed in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal, it says the ongoing treatment of purported looters in the aftermath of the riots is also atrocious.
“The Commission for Gender Equality condemns any form of looting that ultimately will have a negative impact to the food security and stability of the country.
’’Inevitably, this can also scare foreign direct investment (FDI). It is for this reason that the commission denounces such acts,” said CGE chairperson Tamara Mathebula.
“That, being said, as a human rights institution, the CGE cannot turn a blind eye to various videos circulating in the social media platforms wherein men, women, the elderly and children were treated in an inhumane manner for stealing.”
She said the CGE does not condone any form of stealing, but, however, degrading people and “dehumanising them does not also make it less of a crime”.
“There are many ways of punishing people without having their rights infringed as purported in the videos that we have seen. Equally, we were appalled by the unfortunate incident of women who were made to swim in something that looked like water/alcohol spillage,” said Mathebula.
“No matter how angry those who made those women to do such an act, allegedly in Mamelodi Mall, it cannot be that women were objectified or demeaned in such a manner.
’’Those women in the videos are mothers, sisters and aunts to many. Imagine the humiliation they will suffer for having been subjected to such acts.”
Mathebula said the CGE is calling for investigations into the incidents in a bid to have “a punitive measure against those found to have erred in the process”.
“The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa in Chapter 2 guarantees everyone rights. And those rights extend to the looters too.
’’The law must be applied but not in the manner in which people had their dignity and bodily integrity removed,” said Mathebula.
The South African Police Service and the South African National Defence Force have been criticised for apparent heavy-handedness in ongoing operations to recover the hordes of goods looted from businesses in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.