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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2015 PUBLIC HOLIDAYS IN SOUTH AFRICA
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JANUARY

1 January

New Year's Day

MARCH

21 March

Human Rights Day

APRIL

3 April

Good Friday

5 April

Family Day

27 April

Freedom Day

MAY

1 May

Worker’s Day

JUNE

16 June

Youth Day

AUGUST

9 August

National Women's Day

SEPTEMBER

24 September

Heritage Day

DECEMBER

16 December

Day of Reconciliation

25 December

Christmas Day

26 December

Day of Goodwill

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For more hot and happening things to do, check out the annual events in Cape Town or use our events section for an up-to-date overview of happenings in Cape Town. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter and if you have a smartphone, add m.capetownmagazine.com to your home screen for quick access on the go!

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Cape Town Events Calendar
October 2014
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Rocking the Daisies #RTD2014Rocking the Daisies

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Cape Town Recovery Film Festival Cape Town Recovery Film Festival

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Segway Tours at Spier Wine FarmSegway Tours at Spier Wine Farm

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2014 Fringe Festival at Cape Town City HallCape Town Fringe Festival

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Maboneng Township Arts Langa TagThe Langa TAG Township Arts Gallery Tour

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Quad Biking back safari Aquila Game ParkQuad Bike Safari at Aquila Game Reserve

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Richard's Bistro supper and stage KaapstadRichard’s Supper Stage “Kaapse ...

Supper and Stage make for a delectable evening’s entertainment

High Five Kite Surfer in Cape TownKitesurfing Lessons Special

Learn to kitesurf but leave the soaring costs behind

Seafood Feast at Lola's on Long StreetHappy Hour at Lola’s on Long Street

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Langaro Spa staircaseMaternity Pamper Package Special at ...

The wellness and beauty hub is offering moms-to-be a specialised pregnancy ...

De Grendel Restaurant Food#ThrowbackThursday Restaurant Special ...

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Romantic Date Night & Movie at Twelve Apostles HotelDinner and a Movie Experience at The ...

Lights, camera and a three-course meal at one of Cape Town’s favourite fine ...

Winelands Tea at La MotteWinelands Tea at Pierneef à La Motte

Enjoy an old-Cape high tea at La Motte wine estate

Blokes Hair Brian OosthuizenFake Fridays Haircut Special at Blokes ...

Pair a bespoke haircut with a cold beer every Thursday for just R170

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Toast dusk with fine wine and gorgeous cheese platters

SANParks Tankwa NP FlowersYour Guide to Viewing the Spring ...

Don’t miss the chance to get up close and personal with South Africa’s ...

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Drop kick the stress of the workweek with not one but two hours of discounted ...

Thursday Night Live Music at Jackal & Hide BarThursday Night Live Music Sessions at ...

It’s all about good grub and great tunes at this Cape Town hotspot’s FREE ...

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Get your kicks shooting the same guns as James Bond. For real.

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Celebrate your end of term with thumping beats and an EDM line-up that’ll ...

Avontuur1Concert Series at Avontuur Wine Estate

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Hobby-X Craft Expo 2Hobby-X Craft Expo in Cape Town

The undisputed leader in crafts, hobbies and tools of the handmade trade makes ...

Rocking the Daisies #RTD2014Rocking the Daisies

MGMT, Crystal Fighters and Rudimental headline Cape Town’s favourite outdoor ...

Julep Cocktail BarHappy Hour Cocktails at Julep Bar

This speakeasy-type watering hole offers up a late-night drinks deal in Cape ...

Abbott Nu Jazz Band at SotanoFriday Jazz Dinner at Sotano

Start the weekend in style with soulful beats and supreme fare at this Atlantic ...

Barnyard Theatre (Willowbridge) Born to be wildBarnyard Theatre's Born To Be Wild ...

Rock the night away to six decades of anthems at this Durbanville dinner ...

Wembley Tap Bar Craft Beer Beer Pong at Wembley Tap Bar

Mix ping pong with artisan ale at this industrial-chic house of beer every ...

2014 Fringe Festival at Cape Town City HallCape Town Fringe Festival

Get your dose of drama, dance, comedy and more at this inaugural arts fandango

Ratanga Junction Cape TownHoliday Fun at Ratanga Junction

Rides, rollercoasters, shows and entertainment for the whole family

Old V&A Waterfront Grain Silo for Zeitz MOCCAZanele Muholi & Friends Photography ...

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Rocky Horror Picture Show FugardRocky Horror Show at the Fugard Theatre

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HQ Friday night DJ Dance partyFriday Night DJ and Dancing at HQ ...

#AfterDark with DJ Rene: start the weekend with a steak dinner, stylish ...

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Dutch Haven BarAfter-work Drinks and Live Music at ...

Enjoy an authentic Holland-style borreluur every Friday evening at this ...

Maboneng Township Arts Langa TagThe Langa TAG Township Arts Gallery Tour

Take a gander at local creations along this Cape Town township’s first ...

The Springbok Experience Rugby Museum LogoThe Springbok Experience Museum’s ...

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Wine Flies Forgotten Route TourThe Forgotten Route Train Tour to ...

Take the road less travelled on a two-day adventure to the Klein Karoo

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Supper and Stage make for a delectable evening’s entertainment

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SANParks Tankwa NP FlowersYour Guide to Viewing the Spring ...

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Glenelly 1Meat and Cheese Platters at Glenelly ...

A Stellenbosch wine tasting with true French finesse

Bright Day Art Classes in WoodstockCreative Corporate Team Building with ...

Harness the power of creativity at an edgy customised workshop

Dinner at Dish Restaurant Inn on the SquareBraai Lunch Special at Inn on the ...

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Cozier Wine Shop LogoFree Wine Tasting at Cozier Wine Cellars

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Food and wine tasting at La MotteFood and Wine Pairing at La Motte

Discover a match made in the divine tasting room of this Franschhoek estate

Agri-Expo's Traditional Melkkos RecipesQuick and Easy Melkkos Recipe

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scooter hire cape bike travelScooter Hire from Cape Bike Travel

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Tranquillity Function Venue Two Oceans AquariumFunction Venues in Cape Town

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Surfing lessons with VACorps summer student internshipVACorps: Internships in South Africa

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Summer of Champions Horse Race DurbanvilleSA Horse Racing at Kenilworth ...

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Oriental-Dance-Festival-2International Oriental Dance Festival

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Summer Experience Pre-Party 2014 1 Summer Experience Music Festival ...

Join 5FM’s DJ Milkshake and Good Hope FM’s top DJs for a smoking hot ...

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