Human Rights Day
Human Rights Day is more than just a public holiday. It commemorates one of the most important pillars of our democracy and our Constitution, the Bill of Rights.
We remember the struggle and sacrifice made by thousands of people who marched for equality and basic human rights.
Why is 21 March Human Rights Day?
On 21 March 1960, hundreds of South Africans took to the streets to protest against pass laws, which required black South Africans to always carry a document of identification. Failure to present your pass on demand would lead to arrest and detention.
What started as a peaceful protest turned deadly when police opened fire and killed more than 60 people, injuring 180 others. They were protesting unfair laws and were demanding human rights for all, which are now enshrined in our Constitution.
What happens when your rights are violated?
The following organisations in our country will be able to help you if you feel your rights have been violated in any way:
|South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC)||To lodge a complaint with the South African Human Rights Commission you need to complete the form available on their website. You can also contact the Western Cape Office for more information.||Western Cape Office
Street address: 7th floor, ABSA Building, 132 Adderley Street, Cape Town, 8000
Tel: 021 426 2277
Fax: 021 426 2875
firstname.lastname@example.org (general matters)
|Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID)||IPID will be able to help you if your rights are transgressed by the police. You can download a complaint form. You can also contact the Western Cape office directly.||
IPID Western Cape
Street address: 101 York Street, Ground Floor, Nedbank Building, George
|Public Protector||If you want to complain about a public servant at any level of government, you can contact the Public Protector. You can contact the Western Cape regional office for more information.||
Western Cape Provincial Office
George Regional Office
|Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA)||If your employer has violated your rights, you should contact the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration after you’ve unsuccessfully tried to sort the matter out at work.||
CCMA Cape Town Office
CCMA George Office
Call centre: 0861 16 16 16
|Commission for Gender Equality||If you were discriminated against because of your gender, you should contact the Commission for Gender Equality. You can also lodge your complaint online or contact their Western Cape office.||
Commission for Gender Equality Western Cape
Street address: ABSA Building, 5th floor, 132 Adderley Street, Cape Town, 8001
Let's celebrate together
If you’re not sure how to celebrate Human Rights Day this year, here are some Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport events:
- 20 March Human Rights Day celebrations
Contact: Errol Jaftha
Tel: 044 873 5343
- 22 March Human Rights Day celebrations
Bartolomeu Dias Museum, Mossel Bay
Contact: Mbulelo Mrubata
Tel: 044 691 1067
South African Human Rights Commission video