Why Mzansi celebrates Human Rights Day 

By Rorisang Modiba

On 21 March 1960, residents of Sharpeville and Langa townships, among others, protested against the oppressive apartheid laws. 

Now, this date is celebrated as Human Rights Day.

The purpose of Human Rights Day, according to the South African Bill of Rights , is “… to remind South Africans about the sacrifices that accompanied the struggle for the attainment of democracy in South Africa.” 

The protest led to 69 demonstrators being gunned down by apartheid-era police at the Sharpeville police station near Vereeniging, with many others being killed.

This heightened international attention on South Africa. 

The event that became known as the Sharpeville Massacre indicated the extent of the government’s human rights abuses.

The post-apartheid government recognised March 21 as Human Rights Day to remember those who fought for and secured the freedoms enjoyed today. 

The South African Human Rights Commission was established on this date in 1996, 36 years after the massacre, with its mission to enhance, protect, and monitor human rights in South Africa. 

The constitution now serves as the fundamental safeguard for the Human Rights of all South Africans.

Eskom decided to suspend load shedding to allow citizens to celebrate the holiday without power interruptions.

Pictured above: Sharpeville massacre. 

Image source: X


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