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
February 2016
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Robertson Hands-on Harvest Wine FestivalRobertson Hands-on Harvest Festival

Route 62’s popular food and wine affair returns in 2016 for two whole months ...

SAADA ExpoSAADA Antiques, Art and Design Expo in ...

Whether you prefer the old or the new, there will be something for everyone at ...

Design Indaba Cape TownDesign Indaba Conference & Festival

Browse through cutting-edge examples of design at Mzansi’s foremost creative ...

Tuning the Vine 2016Tuning the Vine Festival in Cape Town

Tune into this hip and happening wine tasting extravaganza in the City Centre

Worldart Gallery Zolile PhetshaneWorldart Gallery: Zolile Phetshane ...

Explore the life of this artist through his striking works that document his ...

orchestra1Cape Town International Summer Music ...

Be entranced by some of classical music’s finest soloists at the Cape Town ...

Fab Ceri Dupree in Cape TownThe Fabulous Ceri Dupree Show

Witness the amazing antics of this international impersonator when he comes to ...

kykNET Outdoor ExpokykNET Outdoor Expo in Malmesbury

If you love outdoor adventure then this weekend event will be right up your ...

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

David Kramer brings another lekker local production to the Mother City

The Darling Music Experience 1Darling Music Experience

This scenic West Coast dorpie celebrates classical and contemporary melodies ...

Oude Libertas Summer Music FestivalOude Libertas Summer Season Festival

Catch this series of Stellenbosch music concerts showcasing some of the finest ...

Othello at Maynardville Park Shakespeare in the Park at Maynardville ...

See Shakespeare’s well-known tale of passion, love and jealousy, Othello, ...

TitanicTitanic: The Artifact Exhibition at the ...

Re-live the excitement, terror and tragedy of the Titanic at this exhibition of ...

Galileo Open Air Cinema Cape TownThe Galileo Open Air Cinema in the Cape ...

Grab some snacks and get ready to watch your favourite films beneath the stars ...

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

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

Battlefield Live SA Laser Tag Children's Events Cape TownKids’ Party Special with Battlefield ...

Treat your little one to the ultimate military-style birthday bash and save R500

Blacksmith Helderberg Sunset ConcertsHelderberg Sunset Concert Series

Take advantage of the warm summer evenings with this series of outdoor concerts

V&A Waterfront Get Active OutdoorsGet Fit for Free at the V&A Waterfront

Make getting fit fun (and free) this summer with this super series of classes

marianne wine estate 6Dinner and Jazz Special at Marianne ...

Wind down with some great food and free live music every Friday evening

Sales Guru Live EventsSALESGURU Live Events

A half-day sales session equipping your team with all the top tips they need to ...

12 Apostles Valentine's Day Lunch BuffetCelebrate The Month Of Love At The ...

Every day is Valentine’s Day at the Azure Restaurant during the month of ...

Backtracker Cycling Back UnitCycling Events in the Western Cape

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

Sarah Pratt Exhibition Salon91The Fox, the Owl & the Robber ...

Step into an imaginative world of dogs, fox puppets, puffins and other creative ...

Kate Davies 365 Exhibition365 Days of Infrared Photography ...

Ethereal and elegant, explore Kate Davies’ infrared world

Om Revolution sunsetOutdoor Weekend Yoga Classes with The ...

Bend, stretch and meditate with this affordable mobile yoga studio in and ...

Aussie Circus SpectacularThe Aussie Circus Spectacular in Cape ...

Gravity-defying feats and FMX high-octave action await at this auspicious ...

NAC Helicopter Tour Noordhoek Beach35% off Cape Point Helicopter Flight

Explore the most southern tip of Africa from above with NAC Helicopters Cape ...

Meleko Mokgosi ExhibitionComrades Solo Exhibition at the ...

Delve into the meaning of democracy with this series of thought-inspiring ...

Taalmonument Picnic SeriesThe Taalmonument Picnic Series in Paarl

Enjoy good food, good entertainment and good company beneath the stars at the ...

Tobagos_Logo-01.jpgBraaivleis, cool tunes and starry skies ...

Start the weekend with a fabulously meaty meal on the terrace of a five-star ...

World of Adventure Logo FinalWorld of Adventure at ROOT44 Market

Grab the whole family and head down to this fun-filled play zone on the R44 in ...

Wildlife Photographer of the YearWildlife Photographer of the Year ...

Gaze in awe at incredible wildlife pictures taken by the globe’s top ...

KIN-Maria-Lebedeva-Safari-Unicorn_1024x1024.jpgSafari Series Limited-Edition Prints by ...

This meticulously crafted series of South African illustrations was inspired by ...

Bye Cycle Peddling the Promenade Cycle Tour in Cape TownPeddling the Sea Point Promenade Tour ...

CapeTownMag readers get a special discount on Fridays when booking a trip on an ...

Harald's Bar and Terrace at Park Inn Foreshore in Cape TownFriday Night Live at Harald’s Bar and ...

Ease into the weekend with some sultry tunes at this speak-easy rooftop shindig

Bay Harbour Market in Hout Bay Cape TownFriday Night at The Bay Harbour Market

Ring in the weekend with live music, craft beer, hearty fare and happy shopping ...

Robertson Hands-on Harvest Wine FestivalRobertson Hands-on Harvest Festival

Route 62’s popular food and wine affair returns in 2016 for two whole months ...

SAADA ExpoSAADA Antiques, Art and Design Expo in ...

Whether you prefer the old or the new, there will be something for everyone at ...

Design Indaba Cape TownDesign Indaba Conference & Festival

Browse through cutting-edge examples of design at Mzansi’s foremost creative ...

Tuning the Vine 2016Tuning the Vine Festival in Cape Town

Tune into this hip and happening wine tasting extravaganza in the City Centre

Worldart Gallery Zolile PhetshaneWorldart Gallery: Zolile Phetshane ...

Explore the life of this artist through his striking works that document his ...

orchestra1Cape Town International Summer Music ...

Be entranced by some of classical music’s finest soloists at the Cape Town ...

Fab Ceri Dupree in Cape TownThe Fabulous Ceri Dupree Show

Witness the amazing antics of this international impersonator when he comes to ...

kykNET Outdoor ExpokykNET Outdoor Expo in Malmesbury

If you love outdoor adventure then this weekend event will be right up your ...

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

David Kramer brings another lekker local production to the Mother City

The Darling Music Experience 1Darling Music Experience

This scenic West Coast dorpie celebrates classical and contemporary melodies ...

Oude Libertas Summer Music FestivalOude Libertas Summer Season Festival

Catch this series of Stellenbosch music concerts showcasing some of the finest ...

Othello at Maynardville Park Shakespeare in the Park at Maynardville ...

See Shakespeare’s well-known tale of passion, love and jealousy, Othello, ...

TitanicTitanic: The Artifact Exhibition at the ...

Re-live the excitement, terror and tragedy of the Titanic at this exhibition of ...

Galileo Open Air Cinema Cape TownThe Galileo Open Air Cinema in the Cape ...

Grab some snacks and get ready to watch your favourite films beneath the stars ...

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

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

Battlefield Live SA Laser Tag Children's Events Cape TownKids’ Party Special with Battlefield ...

Treat your little one to the ultimate military-style birthday bash and save R500

Blacksmith Helderberg Sunset ConcertsHelderberg Sunset Concert Series

Take advantage of the warm summer evenings with this series of outdoor concerts

V&A Waterfront Get Active OutdoorsGet Fit for Free at the V&A Waterfront

Make getting fit fun (and free) this summer with this super series of classes

marianne wine estate 6Dinner and Jazz Special at Marianne ...

Wind down with some great food and free live music every Friday evening

Sales Guru Live EventsSALESGURU Live Events

A half-day sales session equipping your team with all the top tips they need to ...

12 Apostles Valentine's Day Lunch BuffetCelebrate The Month Of Love At The ...

Every day is Valentine’s Day at the Azure Restaurant during the month of ...

Backtracker Cycling Back UnitCycling Events in the Western Cape

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

Sarah Pratt Exhibition Salon91The Fox, the Owl & the Robber ...

Step into an imaginative world of dogs, fox puppets, puffins and other creative ...

Kate Davies 365 Exhibition365 Days of Infrared Photography ...

Ethereal and elegant, explore Kate Davies’ infrared world

Om Revolution sunsetOutdoor Weekend Yoga Classes with The ...

Bend, stretch and meditate with this affordable mobile yoga studio in and ...

Aussie Circus SpectacularThe Aussie Circus Spectacular in Cape ...

Gravity-defying feats and FMX high-octave action await at this auspicious ...

NAC Helicopter Tour Noordhoek Beach35% off Cape Point Helicopter Flight

Explore the most southern tip of Africa from above with NAC Helicopters Cape ...

Meleko Mokgosi ExhibitionComrades Solo Exhibition at the ...

Delve into the meaning of democracy with this series of thought-inspiring ...

Taalmonument Picnic SeriesThe Taalmonument Picnic Series in Paarl

Enjoy good food, good entertainment and good company beneath the stars at the ...

Tobagos_Logo-01.jpgBraaivleis, cool tunes and starry skies ...

Start the weekend with a fabulously meaty meal on the terrace of a five-star ...

World of Adventure Logo FinalWorld of Adventure at ROOT44 Market

Grab the whole family and head down to this fun-filled play zone on the R44 in ...

Wildlife Photographer of the YearWildlife Photographer of the Year ...

Gaze in awe at incredible wildlife pictures taken by the globe’s top ...

KIN-Maria-Lebedeva-Safari-Unicorn_1024x1024.jpgSafari Series Limited-Edition Prints by ...

This meticulously crafted series of South African illustrations was inspired by ...

Bye Cycle Peddling the Promenade Cycle Tour in Cape TownPeddling the Sea Point Promenade Tour ...

CapeTownMag readers get a special discount on Fridays when booking a trip on an ...

Harald's Bar and Terrace at Park Inn Foreshore in Cape TownFriday Night Live at Harald’s Bar and ...

Ease into the weekend with some sultry tunes at this speak-easy rooftop shindig

Bay Harbour Market in Hout Bay Cape TownFriday Night at The Bay Harbour Market

Ring in the weekend with live music, craft beer, hearty fare and happy shopping ...

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A comprehensive guide on organisations in the Mother City that lend a helping ...

Silvermine5 Cape Town Questions for Our Team

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marianne wine estate 6Viva la Difference at Marianne Wine ...

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Where to find the best buns (minds out of the gutter!) and patties in the ...

567 Moonstruck | Clifton 4th concert Moonstruck Summer Beach Concert on ...

Revel in sand, sea and live jazz music and celebrate Valentine’s Day at this ...

Jimmy CarrJimmy Carr Live in Cape Town

Catch this top British comedian in action, right here in the Mother City

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