Know Your Basic Human Rights

21 March is Human Rights Day. If you don’t already know your rights, it’s important that you have a basic understanding of what these are, so that you can defend them at the appropriate times.

Here are 15 basic rights that every South African has:

1. The right to equality
No one has the right to discriminate against you based on your race, gender, sex, marital status, ethnic or social origin, colour, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, conscience, belief, culture, language or birth among others.

2. Human dignity
Everyone has inherent dignity and the right to have their dignity respected.

3. Life
Everyone has a right to life and nobody, not even the state, has the right to take a life. This means that no person can be sentenced to death by the courts.

4. Freedom and security
No one can be put in prison without good reason; be detained without trial; be tortured in any way or be treated or punished in a cruel, inhuman or degrading way.

5. Arrested, detained and accused persons
Any arrested person has a right to a lawyer and cannot be forced to speak or to make a confession. Prisoners must be kept in proper living conditions and may have visits from family members.

6. Personal privacy
No one, not even the government, has the right to search your house or property or even have your possessions seized without following the correct legal channels.

7. Freedom of Expression
South Africans have the freedom to say, write or print what they want, but this right must never violate anyone else’s right or break the law in any way.

8. Freedom of Association
Everyone has the right to associate with anyone they want to associate with. This means people have a right to associate with a trade union, a political party, or any other club or association, including religious denominations and organisations, fraternities, and sports clubs.

9. Political Rights
Every citizen has the right to form a political party; to participate in the activities of, or recruit members for a political party and to campaign for a political party or cause. Every citizen has the right to free, fair and regular elections for any legislative body established in terms of the Constitution and every adult citizen has the right ¬to vote in elections for any political party, and to do so in secret. Every citizen can stand for public office and, if elected, to hold office.

10. Education
Everyone has the right ¬to a basic education, including adult basic education; and to further education.

11. Healthcare, food, water and social services
Everyone has the right to have access to health care services, including reproductive health care; sufficient food and water; and social security, including, if they are unable to support themselves and their dependents, appropriate social assistance.

12. Slavery, servitude and forced labour
You have a right to choose who you want to work for and the kind of work you do, and you must be paid for your work. No-one can be forced to work for someone else.

13. Citizenship
No-one’s South African citizenship can ever be taken away from them.

14. Housing
Everyone has the right to have access to adequate housing. The government cannot take your house away from you or evict you from your home if you own it.

15. Children
All children have the right to parental care, shelter, and food. Children may not be neglected or abused or forced to work.


For more information, support and advice feel free to reach out to us on:
SOURCE: South African Human Rights Commission (

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