South Africa's Sibusiso Innocent Zikode Awarded Global Human Rights Prize

DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA - OCTOBER 19: Sibusiso Innocent Zikode, Abahlali baseMjondolo leader during the shack-dwellers movement, Abahlali baseMjondolo protest the alleged theft of hundreds of millions of COVID-19 funds in KwaZulu-Natal on October 19, 2020 in Durban, South Africa. It is reported that the group also demanded better housing and service delivery. (Photo by Darren Stewart/Gallo Images via Getty Images)

South Africa's Sibusiso Innocent Zikode Awarded Global Human Rights Prize

Sibusiso Innocent Zikode has been awarded the Per Anger Prize by the Swedish Government for his human rights work for South Africans living in informal settlements.

South African human rights activist Sibusiso Innocent Zikode has been awarded the 2021 Per Anger Prize. The international prize is awarded by the Swedish government annually in recognition of advocacy work within the human rights and democracy space. Established in 2004 after Per Anger, a diplomat who rescued Hungarian Jews during the Holocaust, the prize is awarded through The Living History Forum.

READ: Tsitsi Dangarembga Receives 2021 PEN Freedom of Expression Award

In a statement released by Ingrid Lomfors, the Superintendent of The Living History Forum, they write:

"This year, the Per Anger Prize goes to a man who revolts against poverty. He fights for the most vulnerable in South Africa's shack settlements and for their rights to a home and a dignified life. He is a true human rights defender."

Zikode has described the current living situation of millions of South Africans saying, "A shack without water, electricity, and sanitation is not worth calling a home. On the contrary, it means life-threatening circumstances that are particularly harsh towards women, children, and minority groups." He goes on to add that, "The injustice is even more apparent now that the pandemic affects those who are already disadvantaged."

Abahlali baseMjondolo is an 82 000 member movement co-founded back in 2005 by Zikode and which has its founding roots in Durban. The movement, has over the years, fought for the dignity of South Africans without proper housing and who continue to be deprived of basic amenities such as running water and electricity as a result of Apartheid-era spatial planning. In light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, South Africans living in these informal settlements have been particularly vulnerable to contracting COVID-19 as a result of a lack of proper sanitation and overcrowding.