Protecting Human Rights amidst Poverty and Inequality: The South African Post-apartheid Experience on the Right of Access to Housing

in African Journal of Legal Studies
Open Access

Abstract

A significant gain of the new political and constitutional dispensation ushered in South Africa in 1994 was a commitment to the protection of human rights. However, protecting human rights in a country where the gap between the rich and the poor is among the largest in the world was always going to be a daunting challenge. The challenge is even more daunting with the protection of socio-economic rights such as the right of access to adequate housing. This article explores the challenges that South Africa faces in protecting human rights in the face of persistent poverty of over half of the country's population, vast economic disparities and gross inequality. Focusing on the right of access to adequate housing, the author explores some prospects arising from the roles played by the constitution; domestic courts; other state institutions as well as non-state actors. The article concludes that although the challenges are real, the prospects are promising. However, a lot must be done if the democratic miracle that has characterized South African society over the last fifteen years is to be maintained.

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