Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) Minister Zweli Mkhize has condemned human rights abuses meted out in the name of culture and traditional practice.
“We cannot talk about the promotion of our cultures without addressing some defective aspects, such as the wanton abuse of human rights that occur in the name of culture, particularly with regard to women and girl children.
“As we celebrate our cultures and traditions, we also condemn certain practices such as the abuse of women and children under the cloak of culture. Practices which deny women their rights to freedom, economic freedom and participation, dignity and self-expression have no place in our democracy.
“We should thus unite in condemning child marriages and practices such as Ukuthwala, which are practiced in the name of culture. All cultures should protect children, women and the vulnerable.
“We have to preserve the good aspects of our culture and abandon harmful ones that contradict the Constitution, understanding also that culture is dynamic, that it evolves over time. We should also be ready to refine aspects of our culture which violate the human rights of others,” said Mkhize on Monday.
The Minister was speaking at the fourth National Consultative Conference of the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities, underway in Tshwane.
Mkhize said his department was also working closely with traditional leaders to find ways of curbing the high death rates of initiates, particularly in the Eastern Cape.
The conference will review the state of religious, cultural and linguistic matters, and evaluate progress made regarding the promotion of respect for the protection of the rights of cultural, religious and linguistic communities in South Africa.
Traditional healing and cultural rights, land and cultural rights, the review of the status of languages in South Africa as well as the language challenges experienced by the deaf community will also feature strongly on the agenda.
The CRL was established through an act of Parliament (Act No 19 of 2002) to get South Africa talking and acting on cultural, religious and linguistic diversity.
The act requires the commission to convene two national consultative conferences during every term of the commission. The term of the current commission ends on Thursday and the process is underway to appoint new commissioners.