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 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.
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.
Public Protector If you want to complain about a public servant at any level of government, you can contact the Public Protector.
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.
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.