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 CALENDAR OF PUBLIC HOLIDAYS IN SOUTH AFRICA

JANUARY

1 JAN

New Year's Day

MARCH

21 MAR

Human Rights Day

APRIL

3 APR

Good Friday

6 APR

Family Day (Easter Monday)

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
March 2015
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Clubbers Campout #ParadisePark Clubbers Campout Music Festival

The club meets the outdoors in this outdoor music festival featuring top notch ...

Spar Women's 10km challengeSPAR Women’s 10km Challenge in Cape ...

Participate in this annual event and see sisters doing it for a good cause ...

Sizzled Summer Music Festival Sizzled Summer Music Festival in Cape ...

Unleash your inner carnivore at this Sunday fiesta where braai, beer and deep ...

The Vintage Expo Cape TownThe Vintage Fashion Expo in Cape Town

Browse retro clothing and accessories from a bygone era at this vintage ...

South African Eco Film Festival in Cape Town 2015South African Eco Film Festival in Cape ...

Watch world-class environmental documentaries at this ‘green’ movie ...

Open Streets in Langa in Cape Town in MarchOpen Streets in Cape Town

Langa, Cape Town’s oldest township, transforms into a car-free playground in ...

Flamjangled Tea Party 2015 The Flamjangled Tea Party

Enjoy eccentric buffoonery and musical mayhem at this foot-stomping fun ...

The City Craft Beer Project in Cape Town The City Craft Beer Project Festival in ...

Try out 15 brand new brews at this inaugural artisan ale fiesta in Observatory

Groovy Troopers 1Groovy Troopers Trance Party

The legendary trance party gurus celebrate over a decade of stomping with one ...

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

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Beerhouse roast special 2Rock and Roast Sundays at Beerhouse

Pair a pint or two with traditional trimmings and some quality acoustic tunes ...

Kirstenbosch Summer Sunset ConcertsKirstenbosch Summer Sunset Concerts

Prepare yourself for a scintillating smorgasbord of Sunday sunset live music ...

Leopards Leap Rotisserie LunchRotisserie Lunch at Leopard’s Leap ...

Snack on succulent skewered meats and seasonal salads at this hip, young ...

Marcel's Frozen Yoghurt BlizzardShare a Frozen Yoghurt at Your ...

Savour a simple summer moment with a swirl of soft serve in hand

eight picnic 4Sunday Picnics at Spier Wine Farm

Tuck into a delicious array of snacks and nibbles while taking in the bucolic ...

seal snorkeling diver and seals 2Seal Snorkelling Sunday Special with ...

Get free use of a GoPro Hero 2 underwater camera when you book this incredible ...

Camissa Gospel Tour 4Sunday Gospel Experience with Camissa

Embark on a spiritual Sunday journey through one of the Mother City’s most ...

sotano2Sunday Happy Hour and Live Music at ...

Unwind with live music and good vibrations at this easy, breezy Mediterranean ...

Kleine Zalze Wine TastingSunday Wine Tasting at Kleine Zalze ...

Sample a sterling selection of vintages at this acclaimed Winelands destination

Kloof Street House Restaurant KSH Cape TownSunday Lunch & Free Live Jazz at Kloof ...

While away the last few hours of the weekend with some smooth tunes and good ...

Sunset from Blues Restaurant DeckBlues Restaurant’s Seaside Sunday ...

See out the weekend with a relaxed seafood meal at the Camps Bay eatery ...

Art blocks from Baraka Cape Quarter storeBaraka Gift and Decor Shop Special

Save 10% on quirky collectibles and unusual gifts every Sunday at this De ...

Hazendal Wine Farm Cape WinelandsSunday lunch at Hazendal’s Hermitage ...

Unwind with affordable fare on one of Stellenbosch’s oldest wine farms

BarleycornBarleycorn Music Club

39 years of supporting and nurturing SA’s best local and original music

South African Eco Film Festival in Cape Town 2015South African Eco Film Festival in Cape ...

Watch world-class environmental documentaries at this ‘green’ movie ...

Startup Grind Cape TownStartup Grind Cape Town

Starting your own business? Get some insider tips and motivation from customer ...

Postcard view of Cape Town South AfricaHelicopter Tour Special with NAC Cape ...

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

HintHunt Escape Game GroupCape Town’s Most Mysterious Tourist ...

Be sure to add this brain-teasing challenge to your Mother City bucket list

Ways of wellnessMonday Teeth Whitening Special at Ways ...

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

HQ Monday night steak special logoSteak Dinner Special at HQ Restaurant

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

Yemaya Day Spa Sea PointHair Extensions Special at Yemaya Day ...

Save some moola at this upmarket salon and house of beauty with this exclusive ...

Conquest School of Driving Cape TownConquest’s Driving Lessons

Cruise through your K53 licence test with the help of one of Cape Town’s most ...

hudsons burger joint sliders2-for-1 Happy Hour Food & Drinks ...

Wind down from a hard day’s work with buy-one-get-one-free appetisers, beers ...

Thai Sabai Day Spas Somerset WestThai Sabai’s Day Spa Special

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

avontuur wine estate entrance 2Self-guided Tour & Wine Tasting at ...

Indulge in a super affordable farm walk and sip-and-swirl session at the ...

Sunday Roast at Wild Fig Romantic Restaurant2-for-1 Monday Restaurant Special at ...

Grab a partner and enjoy a charming country lunch or dinner for as little as ...

Monday Life Drawing Classes at Bright Art StudioLife Drawing Classes at Bright Day

Capture the beauty of the human body in all its shapes, forms and sizes

2-for-1 burger special on Monday at they odysseyMonday Burger Special at The Odyssey ...

Tuck into two prime patties for only R100 at this handsome Bree Street bar

10 Questions for VWS Firefighter Jon-Jon Emary10 Questions For: Jon-Jon Emary

As the Newlands Station Manager for the Volunteer Wildfire Services, this brave ...

Texx and the City 1a10 Questions For: Tecla Ciolfi

Cape Town born and bred, this music lovin' writer is editor of Deezer SA and ...

Billy Kenny at The Imperial House DJ Billy Kenny Concert in Cape ...

Get those dancing shoes ready as this British house and techno guru brings the ...

orchestra1Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra Autumn ...

Watch acclaimed international soloists showcase their fine-tuned musical skills ...

Life's Good U-19 Party at Kenilworth Racecourse Life’s Good U19 Outdoor Music Fest

If you’re a trendy teen and a fan of the South African music scene then don ...

Bitcoin Africa Conference in Cape TownBitcoin Africa Conference in Cape Town

Vinny Lingham chats about how cryptocurrency could boost your business at this ...

Rooiwolf exhibition at Worldart GalleryWorldart Gallery Exhibition: Rooiwolf

See this acclaimed photographer and abstract artist’s latest work at his ...

Clubbers Campout #ParadisePark Clubbers Campout Music Festival

The club meets the outdoors in this outdoor music festival featuring top notch ...

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