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Mar 22 2012 11:54AM
'Respect rights or lose them'
WORKS BOTH WAYS: KZN Premier Zweli Mkhize says citizens must not take their rights for granted. Photo: Reinhardt Hartzenberg
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Chris Makhaye

Premier Zweli Mkhize warned South Africans that they should selfishly guard their freedom or it could be stolen away from them.

Mkhize was speaking to thousands of people at Dumbe’s Bilanyoni Township, north of KZN, as part of Human Rights Day celebrations on Wednesday.

“People must enjoy these rights responsibly,” said Mkhize.

He said others would get an RDP house and then sell it and go back to the informal settlement.

“This creates the impression that government is doing nothing about people’s plight,” said Mkhize.

“To fully enjoy these rights there are expectations from both the citizens and from government.

“The rights that we are enjoying today were fought for by heroes who laid down their lives so that we can enjoy them today.

“We must not take them for granted because if we lose them it would be very difficult to regain them. Those of us who fought for these rights would tell how difficult it was to get them.”

Mkhize warned communities to alert police and community forums about incidents of domestic abuse. “You find that a man would go and drink and spend the whole weekend hitting his wife and children. If these things happen we must not keep quiet because those who are abused may be scared to report these incidents to the police.”

The premier warned young girls and boys not to abuse the protection they have under the Constitution to intimidate and abuse their parents by being disrespectful, rude, demanding things and even assaulting their parents and grandparents.

The ceremony was attended by among others, the governor of Mozambique’s Maputo province, Maria Elias Jonas, and deputy mayor of Dumbe, Dudu Nhlengethwa.

Mkhize told Jonas that the people of South Africa and the province of KwaZulu-Natal would be forever grateful to the people of Mozambique for the sacrifices that they made in the fight for the liberation of this country.

“We want to show this gratitude so that even when a few hotheads start xenophobic attacks against Mozambican nationals they (these hotheads) are not representing us. Our people must accept the people of Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Malawi and Botswana because Africa is one country,” said Mkhize.

Mkhize said the KwaZulu-Natal government would enter into a partnership with the Maputo province to work together to develop each other and engage in projects that would benefit the people of these provinces.

“We have to work together because we share a long history with the people of Mozambique in general and of Maputo province in particular,” he said.

Nhlengethwa told the gathering that as a woman she was happy that women were taking leadership positions in national, provincial and local governments.

Many people who attended the ceremony had mixed feelings about Wednesday's celebration. But Manini Nkosi, a 72-year-old local resident from Bilanyoni, was happy: “I am glad that I now enjoy the government grant and I have a house and electricity. In the past we didn’t have all these things. Although I think that not everything is perfect, but things are better for us now because of these rights.”

John Khumalo said he was glad that Mkhize reminded them of the responsibilities that came with their rights.

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