SAHRC holds conference on rights of children with disabilities

The two-day conference focused on access to education, as the commission concludes that this basic right has been denied to those children.


JOHANNESBURG – The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) has held a two-day conference on the rights of children with disabilities in Johannesburg this week.

The focus is on access to education, as the commission concludes that this basic right has been denied to those children.

In a statement, the SAHRC cites a 2015 Human Rights Watch Report titled, Complicit in Exclusion: South Africa’s Failure to Guarantee Inclusive Education for Children with Disabilities; which states that nearly half-a-million children with disabilities were denied access to education while the Department of Basic Education statistics for 2017 indicate that 11,461 children with disabilities were on school admission waiting lists.

The commissioner responsible for children’s rights, Angie Makwetla, says “Children with disabilities and their families constantly experience barriers to the enjoyment of their basic human rights which includes the right to education, right to healthcare and right to family care. This is contrary to the norm stipulated in the Constitution, national legislation as well as regional and international instruments which state that children with disabilities must enjoy equal rights as children without disabilities.”

Through this conference, the SAHRC aims to strengthen relations between itself, non-governmental organizations and government departments in their efforts to educate society on the rights of children living with disabilities, while empowering their parents.


On Wednesday Afrika Tikkun demonstrated outside the conference venue, saying the commission had failed to protect the rights of a 16-year-old child who was allegedly raped by her caregiver in 2013.

The organization says three years after the alleged crime was reported – there is little evidence that the case properly investigated by the human rights commission and other authorities.

The NGO says the case of the girl, who was reportedly later married off to the suspect at the age of 16, is one of many reported incidents of abuse at the centre.

Joined by activist mothers, Afrika Tikkun submitted an appeal on the matter.

General manager at the organisation, Jean Elphick, says: “In July, the commission sent a notice to say that the case would be considered resolved unless appealed. These mothers are really questioning if anyone really cares about justice for children with disabilities. They are also wondering whether there any evidence that the commission is actually fulfilling its mandate.”

The conference ended on Thursday.