Friday 12 July

Climate Change As a Human Rights Risk

Climate change presents an existential crisis to human life and human systems throughout the world. More often than ever we see extreme weather events induced by climate change occurring in different parts of the world, and the pain and loss suffered by those who have been affected on the news.

South Africa has not been spared. We have begun to see heatwaves, droughts, and floods. Notably, in 2021 the whole country was stunned as we witnessed the floods in KwaZulu-Natal, which caused loss of life and of property. We saw that it was those who were already in economically and socially precarious situations who were affected the most. Ironically, these are the people who
have contributed the least to climate change. We also saw massive destruction of school infrastructure and health facilities, which created an unavoidable knockon effect on the national budget

2023 Year in Review

The year 2023 marked the 30th anniversary of SECTION27, incorporating the AIDS Law Project. The AIDS Law Project, established in 1993, was at the forefront of the civil society response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic in South Africa, together with longtime partner the Treatment Action Campaign. Since 2010, SECTION27 has engaged in legal mobilisation to take on the fight for basic education and health care rights. We launched a month-long social media campaign, #30yearsin30days, to mark our anniversary, by reflecting on key highlights and achievements throughout our history.

2023 saw SECTION27 welcoming a new Executive Director, Sasha Stevenson, who began her journey with the organisation as an attorney and later assumed the role of Head of the Health Rights Programme.

As the year draws to a close, we reflect on the achievements and progress made with our partners in promoting the rights to basic education and health care services.

Section27 - 2023 Year in Review

Democracy and Constitutionlism : Civic Education Conference Report

The right to education is guaranteed by Section 29 of the South African Constitution. Given South Africa’s history of racialised inequality in education, the normative development of the right in South Africa has tended to focus on improved education
provisioning within the schooling context. A missing element in South Africa’s discourse in respect of the right to education has been the role of civic education.

SECTION27 together with Council for the Advancement of the South Africa Constitution (CASAC) hosted a workshop in February 2022 to promote human rights and democracy education and to catalyse social movements and civil society to begin
discussion, training and action to promote civic education within their own constituencies in a more sustained manner.

Democracy and Constitutional Report

Legal Mobilisation for Rights : Annual Review 2022

The 2022 edition of our Annual Review sheds light on some of the remarkable achievements of the organisation over the year.

After four years of evidence gathering, investigations and hearings, 2022 saw the publication of the final reports from the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into State Capture, also known as the Zondo Commission. Among other matters, the reports exposed rampant corruption that resulted in the hollowing out of key state institutions and the looting of billions of rands from state coffers. This plundering of resources, combined with the chronic challenges of inequality, poverty, unemployment and a weak economy, make the work of SECTION27 on accountability and rights realisation even more urgent.

For SECTION27, 2022 was a year of both major wins and steady progress in our efforts to ensure accountability and the realisation of the rights to basic education and access to health care services. We enjoyed a historic victory in the Constitutional Court, which vindicated the rights of people who are blind or visually impaired by mandating access to reading materials in accessible formats.

HEALTH REFORM – Perspectives and Proposals

Health system reform efforts in South Africa appear to have stagnated. Following over a decade of discussion and debate, stakeholders are weary and do not trust each other’s motives and opinions.

This stagnation is fatal. South Africa’s health system is under immense strain and its inequities are well known. Some people continue to receive insufficient care while others are over-serviced in the interests of profit. Health care workers are burning out. Uncertainty about changes that may never come is causing jitters in the middle class and impatience among those who cannot imagine a changed system leaving them worse off.

Health Reform

The state of abortion services in the Eastern Cape: 2022 Report

Over the past 4 years, SECTION27 and TAC have diligently monitored abortion service access in the Eastern Cape. Through interviews, facility visits, and interactions with the Eastern Cape Department of Health, we’ve identified numerous barriers: limited second-trimester abortion facilities, a shortage of trained providers and equipment, and high demand. This shortfall forces many women into the hands of illegal abortion providers, underscoring the urgent need for improvement..

Crossing the road story book in multiple languages

Justice Zak Yacoob is a former judge of the Constitutional Court of SA. He is also blind. When he was at school and university, he depended on people to read for him because he didn’t have textbooks or legal texts in braille. Despite these difficulties, he rose to be a judge in the highest court of the country between 1998 and 2013.

Crossing Road

#ENDINGTHEBOOKFAMINE – For People who are Blind or Visually Impaired

The Constitutional Court has declared the Copyright Act of 1978 unconstitutional and invalid to the extent that it limits access to literary and artistic works in accessible formats. The Court granted an immediate exception to copyright for persons with disabilities, allowing them to convert literary and artistic works into accessible formats without first getting authorisation from the copyright holder. Previously, as a result of the Copyright Act of 1978, people with disabilities would need to get authorisation from copyright holders to convert books into formats they could read. The Constitutional Court has now removed this requirement. This opens the door for persons with disabilities, improving access to books and other printed published works.

The Constitutional Court aims to remove the historical gap in access to books, as well as other literary and artistic works, between persons with disabilities and those without. People with disabilities must be granted the same access to books and other literary and artistic works as people without disabilities.

Section27 - End Book Famine

Basic Education Rights Handbook – Second Edition 2022

SECTION27 has developed a Basic Education Rights Handbook in collaboration with partner organisations, Equal Education Law Centre, Equal Education, The Centre for Child Law, The Legal Resources Centre, The Southern African Litigation Centre and the Studies in Poverty and Inequality Institute.  The Handbook is a legal literacy tool that serves to empower communities, school governing bodies, principals, teachers and learners to understand education law and policy, to know when learners’ rights have been violated and what steps are required to protect learners’ rights.   It is a valuable resource in providing information on case developments and legal frameworks in key-areas of education law and policy.

basic education rights handbook

Free Healthcare Services in South Africa : A case for all mothers and children

As at October 2022, the Minister of Health had not determined any conditions regarding eligibility for free health services. That means there are no restrictions on the list of people eligible for free health services or free primary health services. Section 3 of the NHA outlines the responsibilities of the Minister of Health, which includes the duty to determine policies and measures necessary to protect, promote, improve, and maintain the health and well-being of the population. This publication is separated into 5 parts namely, Part 1: Contextualising migration, Part 2: Categories of international migrant persons, Part 3: Health rights and state obligations, Part 4: Looking forward: Universal healthcare coverage and the climate crisis, Part 5: Health system deficiencies and migration: FAQs. We end the publication with a useful list of contacts.

Access to Contraceptives in South African Public Health Clinics between April and June 2022

After receiving reports regarding contraceptive stockouts over the past year, the Stop Stockouts Project (SSP) conducted a survey to collect data on contraceptive availability across the country. The data was collected by Ritshidze, a community-led monitoring project, between April and June 2022. The data collected reflects the reports made to community monitors by both public healthcare users and public healthcare providers. Reports were then referred to the SSP hotline for resolution.

Stop Stockouts

Making Rights Real – Annual Review 2021

2021 was another incredibly challenging year for all of us. We continued to live with COVID-19 and the devastation it wrought on the country. In July 2021, we saw unprecedented civil unrest in the provinces of KwaZulu Natal and Gauteng unfold in the context of increasing poverty and deepening inequality. Over the decades, civil society has admonished that inequality must be addressed in all sectors of society, but South Africa still holds the unenviable distinction of being the most unequal society in the world.

Making Rights Real- Annual Review 2021

Building a field of Economics and Human Rights

This report sets out lessons learned from a year-long project led by the Institute for Economic Justice (IEJ) in partnership with SECTION27 and the Center for Economic and Social Rights (CESR) aimed at building a ‘community of practice’ in South Africa around the intersection of economics and human rights. While South Africa is the main focus of this project, the objective is for this work to serve as a broader exemplar in the Global South. Lessons that were learned from this project are a first step towards achieving a larger objective of further developing this field.

People’s Country Operational Plan 2021

This year’s “People’s COP” has been developed using data collected through Ritshidze in October, November and December 2020 (COP20 quarter 1). In addition to community-led monitoring data, the People’s COP has been further shaped following consultation with people living with HIV, key populations, community based organisations (CBOs), Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), and Faith Based organisations (FBOs)—all stakeholders with collective experience at the forefront of South Africa’s HIV and TB response.

Celebrating impact – Annual Review 2019

“In 2019 SECTION27 continued to punch above its weight and make some important headway on the social justice landscape. This review illustrates the immense passion and drive of the team of activist lawyers, researchers, communicators and community mobilisers who are all committed to the transformative power of the Constitution, and to ensuring that the promises enumerated in the Bill of Rights are obtainable by vulnerable groups in our society.”

Socio-economic rights and austerity

A SECTION27 report compiled by Mila Harding, Mbalenhle Babuza and Julia Chaskalson.

As 2020 began, South Africa was grappling with decreasing budgets for social services, widespread corruption and mismanagement of funds, and deep and growing inequality. By March, the country was locked down in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In the months that followed, the impacts of historical fiscal consolidation, austerity and wastage became even clearer, with already strained social services buckling under the pressure of new demands, and emergency interventions inadequate to meet our soaring need.

Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights Handbook

This manual outlines concepts pertaining to the sexual and reproductive health rights (SRHR) of adolescents. It is designed to help learners, teachers, caregivers and other people curious about learning about SRHR to make sense of sexual health, sexual rights, reproductive health and reproductive rights.

Reporting Corporal Punishment

Corporal punishment is illegal in South Africa since its ban in 1996. However, despite the unlawfulness and unconstitutionality of corporal punishment, incidents involving the physical abuse of learners by educators at schools in South Africa remain prevalent. SECTION27’s continued work in advancing the right to education reveals that such conduct is often under-reported and inadequately dealt with by education authorities. It is for this reason, we have developed the following manual to help inform learners, parents and educators on the various processes for reporting corporal punishment.

National Health Act Guide Third Edition

The National Health Act Guide, now in its third edition, is an invaluable resource for government, health care workers, health service users, academics, students and civil society. The Guide contains not only the Act itself but also detailed analysis and commentary, including links to and explanations of related legislation, regulations and policy.

The People’s COP 2020

This year’s People’s COP has been developed using data collected across two time periods: August and September 2019 (COP18 Q4) with the main focus on data collected in November and December 2019 (COP19 Q1)


SECTION27 Annual Review, 2018

Our 2018 Annual Review details our work on realising basic education rights, the rallying communities around the rights of learners with disabilities, advancing the rights of women to access healthcare and striving for recognition for communities and driving health system reform.

SECTION27 Annual Review, 2016-2017

Read our Annual Review from 2016 – 2017, where we detail our activities over the course of that period: Life Esidimeni, emergency medical services and more from our Health team and, among other activities, the the Michael Komape litigation and Textbooks Case from the Basic Education team.

Spotlight: Youth Edition

Spotlight published a special Youth Edition on Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights, guest edited by SECTION27’s own Thuthukile Mbatha. Read more about the needs of young queer people in South Africa, access to SRHR services and the experiences of young people living with HIV here:

Standing Up For Our Lives

Learn more about the history of access to medicines in South Africa, and the critical work of civil society organisations in transforming the global conversation about drug pricing and reforming patent laws.

Towards Safe and Decent School Sanitation in Limpopo

After the tragic deaths of 5 year old Michael Komape and countless other learners who fell into pit latrines and drowned at school, SECTION27 researched the state of school sanitation infrastructure in Limpopo.


Here, SECTION27’s Faranaaz Veriava wrote a chapter for Norrag’s special issue in 2018 on “The Contribution of the Civil Society
and the Courts to the Normative Development of the Right to Basic Education in the South African Constitution.”


Spotlight‘s fourth edition focused on the impacts of state capture on the health system. It also contains an analysis of the global HIV and TB response in 2017, and details a number of civil society campaigns for health from that year.

#FAILEDBYSYSTEMS | Gender Based Violence

The Daily Maverick published this series of op-ed articles
on Gender-Based Violence (GBV) written by SECTION27 staff members as part of its #FAILEDBYSYSTEMS campaign during 2017. Here, the op-eds are all collected.

Basic Education Rights Handbook

The Basic Education Rights Handbook is a legal literacy tool that serves to empower communities, school governing bodies, principals, teachers and learners to understand education law and policy, to know when learners’ rights have been violated and what steps are required to protect learners’ rights.  

Someone Hurt Me, What Should I Do?

A detailed guide for learners, families and community members on how to manage sexual abuse: this handbook details what to do at hospitals, police stations, courts and schools if you have survived sexual abuse and want to report it.

Kukhona Umuntu Ongihlukumezayo, Kumele Ngenze Njani?

Ukuzazulula ukuhlukunyezwa ngokewcansi: imindeni kanye namalungu womphakathi. [ISIZULU]

Someone Hurt Me, What Should I Do?

To download this guide in English, Afrikaans, isiZulu, SePedi, SeSotho, TshiVenda or XiTsonga, go to this link:

Spotlight Edition #16 – December 2016

Expectations for the new National Strategic Plan on HIV and TB, decriminalisation of sex work, community healthcare worker concerns and more from Spotlight:

Spotlight Edition #15 – July 2016

“Welcome to the first edition of Spotlight. Spotlight is the new identity of
the NSP Review.” – Spotlight editors Marcus Low & Anso Thom.

SECTION27 REVIEW 2014-2015

SECTION27’s annual review spanning our activities from 2014 and 2015.

Too Many Children Left Behind

Exclusion in the South African Inclusive Education System, with a focus on the Umkhanyakude District, KwaZulu-Natal.

NHI – Where we are and where we’re going

Lessons from the Gert Sibande pilot district in Mpumalanga in 2016: this publication casts its eyes forward to a future with National Health Insurance in South Africa.

Health Market Inquiry Patient Booklet

“we are concerned about equitable access to health care services in the
private sector, particularly, pricing and the drivers of the high cost of health care in the private health care sector.” Read a summary of our submission to the Health Market Inquiry of 2014, and stories from patients.

The Competition Commission’s Market Inquiry into the Private Health Care Sector

This inquiry is important because it has the potential to unearth information about the way the private health sector is functioning and address concerns in order to improve access to health care services. Read our fact sheet here:

Monitoring Our Health Jan-Dec 2012

Analysing selected Gauteng healthcare facilities, this publication detailed a breakdown of the provincial health system. Read more:

SECTION27 review 2010-2011

SECTION27’s first annual review, spanning 2010-2011: learn more about the genesis of our organisation.

AIDS Law Project review 2009-2010

“This is the last edition of the AIDS Law Project [ALP] review and the last publication of the ALP. Within days of its publication, the ALP will take the bold step of incorporating itself into a new organisation, called SECTION27.”

By Vuyiseka Dubula, Chairperson of the ALP.

The annual report for 2009-2010 of SECTION27’s predecessor, the AIDS Law Project.

AIDS Law Project Review 2007-2008

The annual report for 2007-2008 of SECTION27’s predecessor, the AIDS Law Project.

AIDS Law Project Review 2006-2007

The annual report for 2006-2007 of SECTION27’s predecessor, the AIDS Law Project.

AIDS Law Project Review 2005-2006

The annual report for 2005-2006 of SECTION27’s predecessor, the AIDS Law Project.

AIDS Law Project Review 2004-2005

The annual report for 2004-2005 of SECTION27’s predecessor, the AIDS Law Project.

AIDS Law Project Review 2003-2004

The annual report for 2003-2004 of SECTION27’s predecessor, the AIDS Law Project.

AIDS Law Project Review 2002-2003

The annual report for 2002-2003 of SECTION27’s predecessor, the AIDS Law Project.

AIDS Law Project Review 2001-2002

The annual report for 2001-2002 of SECTION27’s predecessor, the AIDS Law Project.