Maverick Citizen

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Ordinary South Africans reflect on the Constitution

Residents of Soweto protest about electricity costs outside the High Court in Johannesburg before a case against Eskom, 12 November 2019. (Photo: Thulani Mbele)

Friday, 10 December 2021 marks 25 years of our country’s Constitution. Maverick Citizen will publish articles throughout the week commemorating the occasion with various reflections from ordinary South Africans and civil society. The articles will culminate in a special newsletter that will go out on 10 December.

Maverick Citizen took to the streets of Johannesburg to find out how ordinary South Africans saw and experienced the Constitution. We posed the following questions:

1. Do you know what the Constitution is?
2. How would you say the Constitution has had an impact on your life?
3. What do you think the Constitution needs to improve?

constitution 25 years van rensburg
David van Rensburg. (Photo: Michelle Banda)

David van Rensburg (28) is from Durban and is living and working in Johannesburg. He is a manager at a call centre and is married to Tyneal van Rensburg.

Responses

  1. Yes, I know what the Constitution is;
  2. It’s hard to track the impact. I can’t say it has or hasn’t impacted on my life;
  3. From my perspective the Constitution hasn’t been of favour to the younger generation in respect of the changes that have occurred in the past 24 years. More specifically, as far as the economy and education are concerned. The Constitution as a whole has deteriorated largely. I think there needs to be a restructure of the entire Constitution based on feedback from the people of South Africa, not just the thoughts and opinions of the majority in power.
constitution 25 years van rensburg
Tyneal van Rensburg. (Photo: Michelle Banda)

Tyneal van Rensburg (26) works at a call centre based in Johannesburg. She is married to David van Rensburg.

Responses

  1. My knowledge of the Constitution is limited. I know very little about it;
  2. I don’t think it has had an effect on me because there is no positive or negative to it. I just live in South Africa;
  3. I think the Constitution has to consider younger people to be in charge and be in power so that we can move forward into a new generation instead of following old laws, old rules and regulations, etc that are not for the generation.
constitution 25 years cele
Thaboluhle Cele. (Photo: Michelle Banda)

Thaboluhle Cele (39) is from Pimville, Soweto and assists motorists with parking in Braamfontein.

Responses

  1. Not so sure what the Constitution is;
  2. The Constitution has not had an effect in my life;
  3. For the Constitution to improve, those in power need to leave their fancy offices and meet with the people on the ground and experience some of the issues people have. That way it can apply to a different context because now it serves a minority.
constitution 25 years molekeng
Steven Molekeng. (Photo: Michelle Banda)

Steven Molekeng (25) is homeless in Johannesburg and originally from Bloemfontein.

Responses

  1. No, I don’t know the Constitution;
  2. It has not impacted my life. I am homeless;
  3. The Constitution needs to improve, to cater and care for the homeless and make sure the unemployed in the country is reduced. I didn’t choose to live in the streets, I came to Joburg for work in 2010 after I lost both parents and a home. I did not find any work. With no one and nowhere to stay I had no other choice but to stay in the streets. Luckily, at the time I was a minor and there were shelters in Hillbrow that took us in and we were cared for. When I turned 18 I was told I had to leave to create space for others. Since then I have been back in the streets full time and now smoking crystal meth just to cope with the street life.
ntuli
Bongumusa Ntuli. (Photo: Michelle Banda)

Bongumusa Ntuli (22) is an accounting science student at Wits University.

Responses

  1. Yes, I know what the Constitution is;
  2. It has impacted my life by providing an opportunity to be in a higher education institution as a black person, which I previously wouldn’t have had in the apartheid regime;
  3. Service delivery in this country is poor, more especially with electricity supply and it affects everyone.
constitution 25 years khumalo
Mazwi Khumalo. (Photo: Michelle Banda)

Mazwi Khumalo (21) is unemployed and lives in Johannesburg.

Responses

  1. Yes, I know the Constitution;
  2. It has not impacted my life;
  3. It has to improve as far as education and employment opportunities [are] concerned. A vast majority of the youth is not schooling nor employed. From the frustration of not doing anything we resort to drugs and other sorts of ill behaviour.
constitution 25 years mamhlane
Makulu Mamhlane. (Photo: Michelle Banda)

Makhulu Mamhlane (75, although she is not sure of her age), lives in Johannesburg.

Responses

  1. Yes, I know what the Constitution is;
  2. I am grateful for my monthly old age support grant that enables me to access my necessities each month;
  3. The Constitution needs to care more and ensure dignity for all. At this time and age no one should be living emabobosini (shacks); it is beyond all sorts of inhumane.
constitution 25 years situlweni
Zandile Situlweni. (Photo: Michelle Banda)

Zandile Situlweni (20) is a student in Cape Town.

Responses

  1. Yes, I know what the Constitution is;
  2. I can be me with no apology;
  3. Prioritisation of mental health in the Constitution.
constitution 25 years nogalwane
Anathi Nogalwane. (Photo: Michelle Banda)

Anathi Nogalwane (20) is a student from the Eastern Cape.

Responses

  1. Yes, I think that the Constitution is the paper that stipulates the ultimate laws and regulations that the country is governed according to;
  2. Everything that I do must be in line with constitutional laws, so it has impacted the things that I am able and unable to do. And the constitutional consequences of my actions;
  3. I think that constitutional laws do not really, on a practical level when they are applied, promote equality of justice and opportunities. I think that’s where it can improve. And the involvement of ordinary people in deciding what gets to be part of constitutional laws.
constitution 25 years mzamane
Zenande Mzamane. (Photo: Michelle Banda)

Zenande Mzamane (44) is a mother and wife who lives on the East Rand.

Responses

  1. I partially know what the Constitution is about;
  2. The way the country is run I am aware of my rights and there are opportunities to reach my potential in [my] career and just the right to live, to freedom, learn, protection and many more;
  3. As a nation we also sometimes abuse our Constitution which deteriorates our economy, for example, the looting, xenophobia and giving children of less than 20 their full rights without consent of the parents, resulting in teenage pregnancies. That needs to improve. DM/MC

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