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
September 2016
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interplanetary folk festival 2Interplanetary Folk Festival

Experience different forms of folk music at this diverse music festival

WSDC Shark Jumping 4White Shark Diving Company’s Shark ...

Witness a once-in-a-lifetime spectacle – a great white shark breach – with ...

Ladies Night - 1Ladies Night at The Spa at the Twelve ...

Ladies Night at the Twelve Apostles Hotel is an all-out pampering session

pop up cinema 4Pop-Up Drive-In Cinema

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1693 Pop Up Lunches with Guy Clark 5Pop Up Lunch at 1693

Enjoy a sensory dining experience at this intimate location in the Winelands

Feast 2The Final Feast at the Palms Décor & ...

Let your inner-foodie loose at this night market, situated in the historic ...

HorseTulbagh Horse and Wildflower Show

Get into the spirit of spring with this stunning display of flora and fauna

watershedWatershed Live in Hermanus

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Movies at Spier - 1Outdoor Picnic and Movie Nights at ...

Watch cinematic greats while you sit under the stars, wine glass in hand

Cape Town Fringe FestivalCape Town Fringe Festival

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HintHunt Escape Game Logo 2Corporate Team Building with HintHunt

Get the staff bonding with this exhilarating live group escape game in Cape Town

Clybourne Park at The Fugard TheatreUpcoming Plays that You Don’t Want to ...

Cape Town has a sensational theatre culture and we invite you to sample the ...

Green Forest Trail Run SeriesGreen Forest Train Run Series in the ...

Lace up and traverse the lush Cape landscape as spring sets in

Groot Constantia Trail SeriesGroot Constantia Trail Series in Cape ...

Traverse the beautiful trails in Cape Town’s Southern Suburbs at one of these ...

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 ...

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

Get up close and personal with South Africa’s animal kingdom on an ...

Avontuur Wine Estate entrance Specialised Tastings at Avontuur Wine ...

Spice up your winery experience with one of these delectable monthly pairings

AWOL-City-cycle-tour-6.jpgCape Town City Cycle Tour with AWOL ...

Discover the rich history of Cape Town’s CBD in an active, engaging way with ...

Clybourne Park at The FugardClybourne Park at The Fugard Theatre

Clybourne Park stands for a whole lot more than a property in this racy satire

flora old and new irma stern  3Flora Old and New Exhibition

Gorgeous paintings of flora await you at this exhibition dedicated to Irma Stern

lucinda mudge 3Lucinda Mudge Ceramic Art Exhibition at ...

See the edgy vases by ceramic artist Lucinda Mudge that has art collectors ...

Deborah Poynton Picnic ExhibitionPicnic Solo Exhibition by Deborah ...

The pleasure of a picnic is artfully explored

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

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

Excentric InteriorShellac Manicure-centric and ...

Spoil yourself with one of these signature nail treatments and receive a 25% ...

aMadoda_Interior1.jpgThursday Beer Special at aMadoda Braai ...

Start the weekend early with three cold brews for the price of two at aMadoda- ...

Bowhaus WashHausBowhaus Bath Brush and Doggy Daycare ...

This Mother City pet-sitting paradise brings you the alternative to leaving ...

Nederburg 1Nederburg Concert Series

Everyone needs the sound of classical music and the lovely taste of Nederburg ...

Winter World Class Burger Pairing at Café CapriceWinter World Class Burger Pairing at ...

Four bartenders battle it out for World Class domination with their brilliant ...

african relish 4Culinary Getaway with African Relish

For the foodie traveller or those who want culinary combined with relaxation

Pool deck at the African Pride Crystal Towers Hotel & SpaHalf-price Sushi Special at African ...

Get 50% off this Century City restaurant’s sushi every Thursday

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

Backtracker Cycling Back UnitCycling Events in the Western Cape

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

JosephCOAT4Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor ...

Joseph is coming back to Cape Town to warm our hearts with his wonderful story ...

Scootours FamilyJunior Passengers Ride FREE Every ...

This family-friendly off-road adventure will see you (and the whole clan) ...

Groote Post Country MarketGroote Post Country Market

A darling market with plenty of heart and country fare suitable for the whole ...

interplanetary folk festival 2Interplanetary Folk Festival

Experience different forms of folk music at this diverse music festival

WSDC Shark Jumping 4White Shark Diving Company’s Shark ...

Witness a once-in-a-lifetime spectacle – a great white shark breach – with ...

Ladies Night - 1Ladies Night at The Spa at the Twelve ...

Ladies Night at the Twelve Apostles Hotel is an all-out pampering session

pop up cinema 4Pop-Up Drive-In Cinema

This blast from the past cinema experience gives you the feel of a 50’s ...

1693 Pop Up Lunches with Guy Clark 5Pop Up Lunch at 1693

Enjoy a sensory dining experience at this intimate location in the Winelands

Feast 2The Final Feast at the Palms Décor & ...

Let your inner-foodie loose at this night market, situated in the historic ...

HorseTulbagh Horse and Wildflower Show

Get into the spirit of spring with this stunning display of flora and fauna

watershedWatershed Live in Hermanus

Experience a live performance by one of SA’s most established bands this ...

Movies at Spier - 1Outdoor Picnic and Movie Nights at ...

Watch cinematic greats while you sit under the stars, wine glass in hand

Cape Town Fringe FestivalCape Town Fringe Festival

Find out why Cape Town is SA’s capital of creativity at this popular arts ...

HintHunt Escape Game Logo 2Corporate Team Building with HintHunt

Get the staff bonding with this exhilarating live group escape game in Cape Town

Clybourne Park at The Fugard TheatreUpcoming Plays that You Don’t Want to ...

Cape Town has a sensational theatre culture and we invite you to sample the ...

Green Forest Trail Run SeriesGreen Forest Train Run Series in the ...

Lace up and traverse the lush Cape landscape as spring sets in

Groot Constantia Trail SeriesGroot Constantia Trail Series in Cape ...

Traverse the beautiful trails in Cape Town’s Southern Suburbs at one of these ...

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 ...

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

Get up close and personal with South Africa’s animal kingdom on an ...

Avontuur Wine Estate entrance Specialised Tastings at Avontuur Wine ...

Spice up your winery experience with one of these delectable monthly pairings

AWOL-City-cycle-tour-6.jpgCape Town City Cycle Tour with AWOL ...

Discover the rich history of Cape Town’s CBD in an active, engaging way with ...

Clybourne Park at The FugardClybourne Park at The Fugard Theatre

Clybourne Park stands for a whole lot more than a property in this racy satire

flora old and new irma stern  3Flora Old and New Exhibition

Gorgeous paintings of flora await you at this exhibition dedicated to Irma Stern

lucinda mudge 3Lucinda Mudge Ceramic Art Exhibition at ...

See the edgy vases by ceramic artist Lucinda Mudge that has art collectors ...

Deborah Poynton Picnic ExhibitionPicnic Solo Exhibition by Deborah ...

The pleasure of a picnic is artfully explored

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

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

Excentric InteriorShellac Manicure-centric and ...

Spoil yourself with one of these signature nail treatments and receive a 25% ...

aMadoda_Interior1.jpgThursday Beer Special at aMadoda Braai ...

Start the weekend early with three cold brews for the price of two at aMadoda- ...

Bowhaus WashHausBowhaus Bath Brush and Doggy Daycare ...

This Mother City pet-sitting paradise brings you the alternative to leaving ...

Nederburg 1Nederburg Concert Series

Everyone needs the sound of classical music and the lovely taste of Nederburg ...

Winter World Class Burger Pairing at Café CapriceWinter World Class Burger Pairing at ...

Four bartenders battle it out for World Class domination with their brilliant ...

african relish 4Culinary Getaway with African Relish

For the foodie traveller or those who want culinary combined with relaxation

Pool deck at the African Pride Crystal Towers Hotel & SpaHalf-price Sushi Special at African ...

Get 50% off this Century City restaurant’s sushi every Thursday

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

Backtracker Cycling Back UnitCycling Events in the Western Cape

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

JosephCOAT4Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor ...

Joseph is coming back to Cape Town to warm our hearts with his wonderful story ...

Scootours FamilyJunior Passengers Ride FREE Every ...

This family-friendly off-road adventure will see you (and the whole clan) ...

Groote Post Country MarketGroote Post Country Market

A darling market with plenty of heart and country fare suitable for the whole ...

Schalk Bezuidenhout Second LanguageSchalk Bezuidenhout Second Language

Laugh yourself silly at one of the country’s best young comedians

Rectron MTB ChallengeRectron MTB Challenge & Family Day

Traverse the rocky trails on two wheels in support of a worthy charity

A Steady rain at The Fugard TheatreA Steady Rain at The Fugard Theatre

The award-winning Broadway hit bounds onto this iconic theatre’s stage

Cape Town Prawn Festival at Kenilworth RacecourseMatchem Stakes at Durbanville Racecourse

Kick-off the Capetonian racing calendar with a fabulous showdown in the ...

C40 Cities Awards 2016Cape Town is a 2016 C40 Cities Awards ...

The Mother City has been recognised for its climate change initiatives

Steam Train Trip to Vredenheim EstateSteam Train Trip to Vredenheim Estate

Awaken your inner child with a railroad trip back in time

JSO Swiss Orchestra ConcertJSO Swiss Symphony Orchestra Concert at ...

Serenade your soul with this moving performance by an international orchestra

hezron chetty10 Questions For: Hezron Chetty and ...

Cape Town-based Violinist and Songwriter Hezron Chetty creates a ...

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