The South African Constitution


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The South African Constitution

Our Constitution is the most important document in our country. It gives us rights and responsibilities that we are entitled to as citizens of South Africa.”  – Childlinesa.org.za.

The Constitution is the supreme law of the land. This means it is the ‘highest’ law and all other laws in South Africa, and the actions of government, must fall in line with what is set out in the Constitution. The Constitution not only provides a legal foundation, it also outlines the rights that everyone living in South Africa can claim and defines the structure of our government.

The adoption of South Africa’s Constitution in 1996 was a very important part of our country’s history. It was one of the final chapters in South Africa’s struggle against Apartheid and colonialism and in the fight for democracy, and the start of a new chapter in our country’s story.

After the long struggle for freedom and equality, representatives of all races, from all the major political and liberation organisations in the country, met to work together to write our Constitution. It took almost two and a half years to draft and was completed on the 8 May 1996.

President Nelson Mandela signed the final draft of the Constitution into law on 10 December 1996.

After a long journey, our Constitution was finally complete. It is considered to be one of the best examples of a modern constitution in the world. That’s pretty cool right?

The Bill of Rights

The South African Constitution says a lot of things, all based around the foundational values on which South Africa is built on – dignity, equality and freedom. All of these impact you and our country, but there are some parts that are really important for every South African to know – including you! One of the most important parts of the South African Constitution is the Bill of Rights, found at Chapter Two of the Constitution.

The Bill of Rights is a list of the basic human rights that everyone in South Africa has. In a democratic country like South Africa, your rights give you loads of freedoms and protections that enable you to be treated fairly and equally no matter who you are. Kids and teenagers even have special rights – rights that need to be respected by all other people in the country.