In my previous post, I wrote about our organisation’s official letter to the SA Human Rights Commission to request intervention on the matter of the widespread exclusion of children with disabilities from a basic education. You can read that post here

I promised to update this blog with the reply to our appeal to the SAHRC.

At first, we received no reply whatsoever from the SAHRC which prompted me to write again and addressing the email directly to both the Commissioner for Children and the Commissioner for Disability. On November 11, I wrote as follows:

Dear Commissioners Malatji and Makwetla,

Below is an email I sent to your offices on 24 October.

I have received no response from you.

It is within this Council’s jurisdiction to guard over the rights of persons with disabilities and to be a voice for children with disabilities.

This is the second appeal to you to please reply to my letter of 24 October.

Your cooperation would be highly appreciated.

On the same day, I received a reply from both Commissioners in which they apologise for the delay in getting back to me and then pointing out that the information about the situation of a specific child who is out-of-school will be addressed by the provincial office of the SAHRC. That’s it. That was their full reply to a letter in which I urged them to intervene in the tragic country-wide reality of about a half a million disabled children of school going age being out-of-school. In my letter to them, my opening sentence refers to the case of a specific child “mirroring” the circumstances of hundreds of thousands of children all over the country. The Commissioners failed to reply to the key complaint outlined in our letter and that is the national phenomenon of children with disabilities not having access to a formal and equal education and as such being denied a most pressing and fundamental child and human right.

We immediately replied to their disappointing and unsatisfactory answer as follows:

Dear Commissioners Malatji and Makwetla,

Thank you sincerely for your reply.

As you suggest, we will continue to liaise with (the SAHRC provincial office) on the (individual) case.

However, my previous letter to you sketches a scenario of out-of-school children with disabilities nationally, and I was hoping for some indication from you as national commissioners on how the SAHRC intends to intervene in the crisis of the denial of children to their right to an education.  We have a situation here of widespread and persistent disability discrimination with a fundamental human right being violated, affecting approximately half a million children.

The SAHRC has the mandate and statutory responsibility to intervene in this situation of human rights abuses, and we have the right to know what steps you are taking to put an end to this scale of human and children’s rights violations.

We are anxiously awaiting your reply because we are at pains about what other authority to turn to if the SAHRC is not in a position to work towards resolving this issue.”

A reply is awaited.



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