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
May 2016
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cafe Roux SessionsCafé Roux Sessions in Noordhoek

Enjoy an intimate evening of live music with South Africa’s most talented ...

District Six Kanala Musical in Cape Town District Six - Kanala Musical

David Kramer brings another lekker local production to the Mother City

Oppiwater KunstefeesOppiwater Arts Festival on the MSC ...

Cruise into the sunset with a show that floats your boat

Murder Mystery Dinners in Cape TownMurder Mystery Dinner Parties Cape Town

Intrigue, secrecy and cold-blooded killings are the order of the day at these ...

 PechaKucha at Assembly |  PechaKucha  cape townPechaKucha Cape Town

Get inspired at this FREE, creative bimonthly talk happening in the heart of ...

Rick's Cafe Table PeopleRick’s Café Americain’s Weekly ...

Pop over to the charming Casablanca-themed restaurant for a hearty meal that ...

Cape Town Concert SeriesCape Town Concert Series at the Baxter ...

Add a sweet melody to the end of your summer with these stirring and soulful ...

Horseback safari at AquilaHorseback Safari at Aquila Game Reserve

Ditch the regular, old game drive and saddle up for an up-close experience with ...

Borage Bistro in Cape TownThe Everyman’s Bistro Lunch at Borage ...

Everyone’s invited for a sublime midday meal at this easy-going CBD eatery

Swordfern Hair and Beauty Salon 5Half-Price Men’s Haircut at Swordfern ...

Every Tuesday this trendy wellness studio trims 50% off its ‘Be a ...

Park Inn Newlands Happy Hour SpecialHappy Hour Special at the Park Inn ...

Pop in to this slick hotel for buy-one-get-one-free drinks any day of the week ...

Boy Girl Hair Salon SignHaircut Special at Boy Girl Hair

Marry a tip-top cut with any of this edgy salon’s other services and save

Live Jazz Music at Asoka on TuesdayLive Jazz at Asoka Restaurant

Turn your Tuesday up a notch with this trendy hotspot’s vibey dinner and ...

Underwater Photographer of the YearThe Underwater Photographer of the Year ...

Dive down deep into an underwater world of superlative photography

Damn Vandal Art ExhibitionDamn Vandal ‘Other Worldly’ ...

Gorgeous graffiti-inspired artworks await at this urban-style exhibit

Cape Town Youth Choir Handel's Messiah 1SA College of Music Concert Series

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

Excentric InteriorTransformation Tuesday at Excentric ...

First-time clients will receive a complimentary Olaplex in-salon treatment when ...

The Village Idiot Restaurant & Bar in Cape TownSunday Winter Craftsmen Braai at The ...

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

Life-Rob Van Vuuren-3Life by Rob van Vuuren

Laugh out loud as Rob van Vuuren takes the funny back in time to the date of ...

Love Factually - 2Alan Committie in Love Factually

Love to be in love? Love to laugh? Then Alan Committie is your knight in ...

City Hall by Joshua OatesAutumn Symphony Season

A classical way to spend an autumn evening in the city

Backtracker Cycling Back UnitCycling Events in the Western Cape

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

HQ Date performerTuesday Romantic Date Night at HQ ...

Treat your loved one to an evening of succulent steaks, red wine and romantic ...

The Underwater ExhibitionUnderwater Cape Town Exhibition

A kaleidoscope of skin comes to life in a popular pool

mischu coffee showroom in sea point cape townFree Coffee Beans and Capsules at ...

Simply mention CapeTownMagazine.com while placing an order of coffee beans or ...

Beerhouse Restaurant and Bar in Cape TownPub Quiz Night at Beerhouse on Long ...

Test your general knowledge at this Long Street-based haunt’s Tuesday pub quiz

Signal Hill Terrace and Lounge InteriorTapas and Wine Special at Signal Hill ...

Wine, dine and relax every Tuesday at this stylish CBD haunt

Boschendal Wine FarmPicnic Lunches at Boschendal Wine Farm

Delight in an alfresco feast at one of the most picturesque wineries in the ...

OmniBlend6Quick and Easy Broccoli and Peanut Soup ...

We teamed up with the folks at OmniBlend blenders HQ to bring you this tasty ...

cafe Roux SessionsCafé Roux Sessions in Noordhoek

Enjoy an intimate evening of live music with South Africa’s most talented ...

District Six Kanala Musical in Cape Town District Six - Kanala Musical

David Kramer brings another lekker local production to the Mother City

Oppiwater KunstefeesOppiwater Arts Festival on the MSC ...

Cruise into the sunset with a show that floats your boat

Murder Mystery Dinners in Cape TownMurder Mystery Dinner Parties Cape Town

Intrigue, secrecy and cold-blooded killings are the order of the day at these ...

 PechaKucha at Assembly |  PechaKucha  cape townPechaKucha Cape Town

Get inspired at this FREE, creative bimonthly talk happening in the heart of ...

Rick's Cafe Table PeopleRick’s Café Americain’s Weekly ...

Pop over to the charming Casablanca-themed restaurant for a hearty meal that ...

Cape Town Concert SeriesCape Town Concert Series at the Baxter ...

Add a sweet melody to the end of your summer with these stirring and soulful ...

Horseback safari at AquilaHorseback Safari at Aquila Game Reserve

Ditch the regular, old game drive and saddle up for an up-close experience with ...

Borage Bistro in Cape TownThe Everyman’s Bistro Lunch at Borage ...

Everyone’s invited for a sublime midday meal at this easy-going CBD eatery

Swordfern Hair and Beauty Salon 5Half-Price Men’s Haircut at Swordfern ...

Every Tuesday this trendy wellness studio trims 50% off its ‘Be a ...

Park Inn Newlands Happy Hour SpecialHappy Hour Special at the Park Inn ...

Pop in to this slick hotel for buy-one-get-one-free drinks any day of the week ...

Boy Girl Hair Salon SignHaircut Special at Boy Girl Hair

Marry a tip-top cut with any of this edgy salon’s other services and save

Live Jazz Music at Asoka on TuesdayLive Jazz at Asoka Restaurant

Turn your Tuesday up a notch with this trendy hotspot’s vibey dinner and ...

Underwater Photographer of the YearThe Underwater Photographer of the Year ...

Dive down deep into an underwater world of superlative photography

Damn Vandal Art ExhibitionDamn Vandal ‘Other Worldly’ ...

Gorgeous graffiti-inspired artworks await at this urban-style exhibit

Cape Town Youth Choir Handel's Messiah 1SA College of Music Concert Series

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

Excentric InteriorTransformation Tuesday at Excentric ...

First-time clients will receive a complimentary Olaplex in-salon treatment when ...

The Village Idiot Restaurant & Bar in Cape TownSunday Winter Craftsmen Braai at The ...

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

Life-Rob Van Vuuren-3Life by Rob van Vuuren

Laugh out loud as Rob van Vuuren takes the funny back in time to the date of ...

Love Factually - 2Alan Committie in Love Factually

Love to be in love? Love to laugh? Then Alan Committie is your knight in ...

City Hall by Joshua OatesAutumn Symphony Season

A classical way to spend an autumn evening in the city

Backtracker Cycling Back UnitCycling Events in the Western Cape

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

HQ Date performerTuesday Romantic Date Night at HQ ...

Treat your loved one to an evening of succulent steaks, red wine and romantic ...

The Underwater ExhibitionUnderwater Cape Town Exhibition

A kaleidoscope of skin comes to life in a popular pool

mischu coffee showroom in sea point cape townFree Coffee Beans and Capsules at ...

Simply mention CapeTownMagazine.com while placing an order of coffee beans or ...

Beerhouse Restaurant and Bar in Cape TownPub Quiz Night at Beerhouse on Long ...

Test your general knowledge at this Long Street-based haunt’s Tuesday pub quiz

Signal Hill Terrace and Lounge InteriorTapas and Wine Special at Signal Hill ...

Wine, dine and relax every Tuesday at this stylish CBD haunt

Boschendal Wine FarmPicnic Lunches at Boschendal Wine Farm

Delight in an alfresco feast at one of the most picturesque wineries in the ...

OmniBlend6Quick and Easy Broccoli and Peanut Soup ...

We teamed up with the folks at OmniBlend blenders HQ to bring you this tasty ...

Bowhaus Play AreaBowhaus Doggy Daycare in Woodstock

Drop your fur-child off for the day at this brand new cage-free and leash-free ...

Belly dance 2World Belly Dance Day

Cape Town’s contribution to a global celebration

The Spirit Train AfterBurn PartyThe Spirit Train AfterBurn Party at the ...

Re-immerse yourself in the magnificent glow of AfrikaBurn in the heart of the ...

Be a Hero at the BankBe a Hero for the Blue Collar Foundation

Grab your cape and fly to The Bank to break it down for a great cause

Namaqualand Flower FestivalNamaqualand Flower Festival

Floral fun abounds at this flower-power fest

FNB Cape Town 12 ONERUNFNB Cape Town 12 ONERUN

What do you run on? Find out at this year’s spectacular ONERUN race.

FanCon Cape TownFanCon: Cape Town Comic Con

The Western Cape gets its own version of the famed convention in May

Cannabis March 2016 Global Cannabis March in Cape Town

Get those feet on the ground for this upcoming peaceful protest for a green ...

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