Human Rights Day (Public Holiday)

Remember the past and celebrate the future on Human Rights Day


Human Rights Day (21 March) was officially declared a public holiday in 1994 following the inauguration of former president Nelson Mandela. This national day-off is both a stark reminder of the tragic Sharpeville massacre and a celebration of South Africa’s unique constitution, which gives equal rights to all.

THE SHARPEVILLE MASSACRE

On Monday, 21 March in 1960 police opened fire, without order, on a crowd that had gathered at the Sharpeville station to protest pass laws, stipulations that required Africans to carry books and produce them for law enforcement officials on request; 69 unarmed people were killed and another 180 were injured.  

While little is known about what really sparked this tragic event, Joe Tlholoe, one of the nation's most acclaimed journalists who was a high school pupil at the time, recalled that the Pan Africanist Congress – under the leadership of Robert Sobukwe – appealed to all African men to take a stand against such a humiliating law, leave their pass books (also known as the dompas) at home, go to their nearest police station and demand to be incarcerated for not carrying the demeaning document. The police then, upon seeing the masses of people marching, opened fire on the crowd in a state of fear.

Today, the South African constitution protects individual rights, like the right to move freely without a pass book, with its inclusion of the Bill of Rights (only a supermajority of Parliament can influence any changes to the bill), and citizens are entitled to basic human dignity and more in the country’s current democracy.

THINGS TO DO ON HUMAN RIGHT’S DAY IN CAPE TOWN

To commemorate this historic day and to celebrate how far our nation’s progressed, why not have a look at our overview of things to do for Human Right’s Day in Cape Town.

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2016 CALENDAR OF PUBLIC HOLIDAYS IN SOUTH AFRICA

JANUARY

1 JAN

New Year's Day

MARCH

21 MAR

Human Rights Day

25 MAR

Good Friday

27 MAR

Family Day (Easter Sunday)

APRIL

27 APR

Freedom Day

MAY

1 MAY

Worker’s Day

JUNE

16 JUN

Youth Day

AUGUST

9 AUG

National Women's Day

SEPTEMBER

24 SEP

Heritage Day

DECEMBER

16 DEC

Day of Reconciliation

25 DEC

Christmas Day

26 DEC

Day of Goodwill

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Plan your year with our nifty overview of public holidays in South Africa. Alternatively, have a squiz at our guide to annual March events to find out about more hot happenings taking place during the month.

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Cape Town Events Calendar
MAI 2016
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Indulge in any main course at this elegant Sea Point eatery and get a ...

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Tuck into any of this Mother City institution’s tasty pizzas for half-price ...

quaglinos 2 for 1 special2-for-1 Dinner Special at Quaglino’s ...

Order two main meals and pay for only one every Monday night

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Save 15% on breathtaking private helicopter flights around the Mother City ...

HQ Monday night steak special logoSteak Dinner Special at HQ Restaurant

#2For1Unplugged Mondays: get twice the sirloin, salad and chips at Headquarters ...

Ways of Wellness Spa ExteriorMonday Teeth Whitening Special at Ways ...

Start the week with a lustrous smile thanks to Cape Town’s only organic ...

Burst 1The Burst Exhibition at Gallery MOMO

Challenge the stereotypes attached to the black female form

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Optical Diversion ExhibitionOptical Diversion Exhibition at ...

Venture into a world of abstraction with this eye-catching show

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Dive down deep into an underwater world of superlative photography

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Music has the power to inspire, and these scholars appreciate its true meaning

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Celebrate the last day of the week with blazing fires and epic food experiences ...

Backtracker Cycling Back UnitCycling Events in the Western Cape

Use this handy cycling overview to diarise your favourite events for the ...

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Sinfully sexy, this dance showcase is about to get hot!

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Indulge in a relaxing Lotus Flower Hot Oil Massage, a light lunch and a ginger ...

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Score two mouth-watering burgers for the price of one at this popular CBD haunt

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Take a stroll through this destination winery and learn more about its ...

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This lovable Long Street restaurant’s new offering is perfect for those on ...

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