< Back

A Bill of Rights for a New South Africa

Preliminary Revised Text, February 1993


In the light of a vast number of comments received in many forms on the Draft
Bill of Rights prepared by the Constitutional Committee of the ANC, this new
text has been prepared. The objective is to work out a preliminary revised text
for presentation to the Policy Conference. This draft will therefore be
finalised after comments have been received from the ANC membership.

NOTE: The words in bold are new, while words in brackets are
to be deleted. The notes are intended to draw attention to controversial areas -
they do not form part of the text.

Article 1 EQUALITY

(1) All South Africans are born free and equal in dignity and rights.

(2) No individual or group shall receive privileges or be subjected to
discrimination, domination or abuse on the grounds of race, colour, language,
gender, or creed, political or other opinion, birth or other status.

(3) All men and women shall have equal protection under the law.


The Right to Life

(1) Every person has the right to life.

(2) No-one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his or her life.

(3) Capital punishment is abolished and no further executions shall take

NOTE: The question has been raised as to whether the use of the phrase
`right to life' indicates an anti-abortion position in the Constitution. In our
view, the issue is left open in this clause. We feel the matter should be left
open for legislative action after democratic discussion in future. The issue
needs sensitive and informed debate with extensive participation by all
interested parties and a respect for differing views. Uninformed debate could be
extremely divisive and distract attention from the basic question of equal
political rights. The Constitution should not in any way pre-empt proper debate.
We regard the issue as of great importance and would recommend that it receive
high priority as soon as democratic institutions are in place.

The Right to Dignity

(4) No-one shall be subjected to slavery, servitude or forced labour,
provided that forced labour shall not include work normally required of someone
carrying out a sentence of a court, nor military service or national service by
a conscientious objector, nor services required in the case of calamity or
serious emergency, nor any work which forms part of normal civil obligations.

(5) The dignity of all persons shall be respected.

(6) No-one shall be subjected to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading
treatment or punishment.

(7) Everyone shall have the right to appropriate protection by law against
violence, harassment or abuse, or the impairment of his or her dignity.

The Right to a Fair Trial

(8) No-one shall be deprived of his or her liberty except after due process
of law, and the courts shall have the right to order the release of any person
held without due legal authority.

(9) There shall be no detention without trial, banishment or house-arrest.
Legislation may provide for legitimate restriction of movement in relation to
illegal immigrants and persons of unsound mind.

(10) No persons shall be arrested or detained for any purpose other than that
of bringing them to trial on a criminal charge.

(11) Arrest shall take place according to procedures laid down by law, and
persons taken into custody shall immediately be informed of the charges against
them, shall have access to a legal representative of their choice, and shall be
brought before court within 48 hours or, where that would be a Sunday or a
public holiday, on the first working day thereafter.

(12) Bail shall be granted to awaiting-trial persons unless a court rules
that in the interests of justice they should be kept in custody.

(13) No-one shall be deprived of liberty or subjected to other punishment
except after a fair trial by an independent court.

(14) Trials shall take place within a reasonable time.

(15) Everyone shall be presumed innocent until proved guilty.

(16) No conduct shall be punished if it was not a criminal offence at the
time of its occurrence, and no penalty shall be increased retrospectively.

(17) No-one shall be tried or punished twice for the same offence.

(18) Accused persons shall be informed in writing of the nature of the
allegations against them, and shall be given adequate time to prepare and
conduct their defence.

(19) Everything that is reasonable shall be done to ensure that accused
persons understand the nature and the import of the charges against them and of
the proceedings, that they are not prejudiced through illiteracy or lack of
understanding, and that they receive a fair trial.

(20) Accused persons shall have the right to challenge all evidence presented
against them, to be defended by a legal practitioner of their choice, and if in
custody, to have access to a legal practitioner at all reasonable times.

(21) If a person is unable to pay for legal representation, and the interests
of justice so require, the State shall provide or pay for a competent defence.

(22) No persons shall be required to give evidence against themselves, nor,
except in cases of domestic violence or abuse, shall persons be required to give
evidence against their spouses, whether married by civil law or custom, their
parents or their children.

(23) No evidence obtained through torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading
treatment shall be admissible in any proceedings.

(24) Juveniles shall be separated from adult offenders.

(25) Punishment imposed by any Court shall be humane and any term of
imprisonment shall be reviewed periodically.

The Right to Judicial Review

(26) Any person adversely affected in his or her rights, entitlements or
legitimate expectations by an administrative or executive act shall be entitled
to have the matter reviewed by an independent court or tribunal on the grounds
of irregularity, including abuse of authority, going beyond the powers granted
by law, bad faith, or such (gross) unreasonableness in relation to the procedure
or the decision as to amount to manifest injustice. NOTE: This clause will in
all likelihood have to be revised in the light of recommendations of the
workshop, held in Cape Town early in 1993, on the future of the Administrative
law and also after further discussions.

The Right to Home Life

(27) No-one shall be deprived of or removed from his or her home on the
grounds of race, colour, language, gender or creed.

(28) The privacy of the home shall be respected, save that reasonable steps
shall be permitted to prevent domestic violence or abuse.

(29) People shall have the right to establish families, live together with
partners of their choice and to marry.

(30) Marriage shall be based upon the free consent of the partners, and
spouses shall enjoy equal rights at and during the marriage and on its

NOTE: Many people marry by ante-nuptial contract, and thereby create
separate property regimes for the husband and wife. Should this situation be
over-ridden by the above clause? Should there be specific reference to possible
legislation on matrimonial property taking into account a just distribution on
termination of the marriage [union] ?

The Right to Privacy

(31) No search or entry shall be permitted except for reasonable cause, as
prescribed by law, and as would be acceptable in an open and democratic society.

(32) Interference with private communications, spying on persons and the
compilation and keeping of secret files about them without their consent, shall
not be permissible save as authorised by law in circumstances that would be
acceptable in an open and democratic society.

The Right of Movement

(33) All South Africans shall have the right without discrimination to move
freely and reside in any part of the country, to receive a passport, travel
abroad and to emigrate if he or she so wishes.

The Right to Conscience

(34) The right to conscience shall be inviolate, and no-one shall be
penalised for his or her beliefs.

(35) No-one shall be required to bear arms or perform military service
against his or her conscientious beliefs.

NOTE: The question of whether there should be conscription is left
open. There are strong arguments for and against the concept of serving in the
armed forces as a constitutionally acceptable duty. In any case, the right of
conscientious objection should be respected.


(1) South Africa shall be a multi-party democracy in which all citizens shall
enjoy basic political rights on an equal basis.

NOTE: Is it necessary to include the word `citizens'? Should we not
return to the earlier formulation: `all men and women'?

(2) Government at all levels shall be subject to the principles of
accountability to the electorate.

(3) Elections shall be conducted in accordance with an electoral law which
shall make no distinction on the grounds of race, colour, language, gender or

(4) Elections shall be regular, free and fair and based on universal
franchise and a common voters' roll.

(5) All men and women entitled to vote shall be entitled to stand for and
occupy any position or office in any organ of government or administration.

(6) All citizens shall have the right to form and join political parties and
to campaign for social, economic and political change, either directly or
through freely chosen representatives.


(1) There shall be freedom of thought, speech, expression and opinion,
including a free press, which shall report and comment fairly and respect the
right to reply.

NOTE: Should there be a qualification on honest and fair reporting and
comment, or would this appear to open the way for impinging unduly on freedom of
the press?

(2) All men and women shall have the right to assemble peacefully and without
arms, and to submit petitions for the redress of grievances and injustices.

(3) All men and women shall be entitled to all the information necessary to
enable them to make effective use of their rights as citizens, workers or


Freedom of Association

(1) There shall be freedom of association, including the right to form and
join trade unions, religious, residents, students, and social and cultural
bodies, and to form and participate in non-governmental organisations.

(2) Legislation shall provide for the right of such associations to be heard
in appropriate cases before any action is taken or measures proposed by any
public or private body which could directly affect the interest of members of
the association.

NOTE: This is an entirely new constitutional provision designed to
give some measure of protection to organs of civil society, such as religious,
cultural or language bodies, residents' associations or trade unions.

Freedom of Religion

(3) There shall be freedom of worship and tolerance of all religions, and no
State or official religion shall be established.

(4) The institutions of religion shall be separate from the State, but
nothing in this Constitution shall prevent them from co-operating with the State
with a view to furthering the objectives of this Constitution, nor from bearing
witness and commenting on the actions of the State.

(5) Places associated with religious observance shall be respected, and
no-one shall be barred from entering them on grounds of race.

Language Rights

(6) The languages of South Africa are, in alphabetical order Afrikaans,
English, Ndebele, Pedi, Sotho, Swati, Tsonga, Tswana, Venda, Xhosa and Zulu.

NOTE: This proposal has been widely commented on. Many countries do
not have an official language or official languages. In some countries, such as
Ireland, the official language is hardly ever used, though its existence has
considerable meaning for the inhabitants. We feel that language rights should be
general, so that languages presently discriminated against shall have a higher
status without downgrading English and Afrikaans. Sub-section 9 is intended to
deal in a practical way with the practical difficulties associated with
multi-lingualism. The essence will be to tailor solutions to concrete situations
and give great weight to choice and voluntary agreement in the context of
acknowledging basic rights.

(7) The State shall act positively to further the development of these
languages, especially in education, literature and the media, to engender the
respect for different languages and to prevent the use of any language or
languages for the purpose of domination or division.

NOTE: The question of providing proper translation services as well as
of encouraging multi-lingualism becomes urgent.

(8) When it is reasonable to do so, one or more of these languages may be
designated by the National Parliament as the language to be used for legislation
or any other defined purposes at the national level or in any region or area
where it is widely used.

(9) Subject to the availability of public and private resources, and
limitations of reasonableness, primary and secondary education should wherever
possible be offered in the language or languages of preference of the students
or their parents.

(10) The State shall promote respect for all languages spoken in South

Creative Freedom

(11) There shall be freedom of artistic activity and scientific enquiry,
without censorship, subject only to such limitations as may be imposed by law in
accordance with principles generally accepted in open and democratic societies.

The Right to Sporting, Recreational and Cultural Activities

(12) Sporting, recreational and cultural activities shall be encouraged on a
non-racial basis, drawing on the talents and creative capacities of all South
Africans, and autonomous organisations may be established to achieve these


(1) Workers shall have the right to form and join trade unions and regulate
such unions without interference from the State.

(2) Workers shall be free to join trade unions of their choice, subject only
to the rules of such unions and to the principles of non-discrimination set out
in this Constitution, and no worker shall be victimised on account of membership
of a union.

(3) The right to organise and to bargain collectively on any social, economic
or other matter affecting workers' interests, shall be guaranteed.

(4) In the furtherance of these rights, trade unions shall be entitled to
reasonable access to the premises of enterprises, to receive such information as
may be reasonably necessary, and to deduct union subscriptions where

(5) No law shall prevent representative trade unions from negotiating
collective agreements binding on all workers covered by such agreements.

(6) Workers shall have the right to strike under law in pursuance of their
social and economic interests subject to reasonable limitations in respect of
the interruption of services such as would endanger the life, health or personal
safety of the community or any section of the population.

(7) Workers shall have the right to peaceful picketing, subject only to such
reasonable conditions as would be acceptable in a democratic society.

(8) Trade unions shall have the right to participate in lawful political

(9) Trade unions shall have the right to form national federations and to
affiliate to international federations.

(10) Employers shall be required by legislation to provide a safe and clean
work environment that respects the dignity of the workers, and to offer
reasonable pay and holidays.

(11) There shall be equal pay for work of equal value, and equal access to
employment, training and advancement.

(12) The State shall make provision by way of legislation for compensation to
be paid to workers injured in the course of their employment and for benefits to
be paid to unemployed or retired workers.

NOTE: It has been argued that a simple clause would be better
guaranteeing trade union autonomy, the right of collective bargaining and the
right to strike. By putting in extensive clauses, it is said, we are shifting
workers' rights from their base in industry and from being subject to the
industrial courts, to the constitutional court, which is far more likely to
favour pro-employer nineteenth century ideas of freedom of contract. While there
is obviously merit in this argument, we feel it can be addressed by ensuring
that in industrial questions judges of the Industrial Court participate
alongside the other judges. The whole question of the relationship between
workers' rights in the Bill of Rights, a Workers' Charter and a possible
Industrial Code embodied in legislation, needs to be looked at globally.


(1) Men and women shall enjoy equal rights in all areas of public and private
life, including employment, education and within the family.

(2) Legislation may provide for reproductive rights, and rights associated
with child-birth and child-raising shall be respected.

NOTE: See Note to Article 2. This is an important question that has to
be handled in a democratic way, recognising a pluralism of opinions, and with as
much sensitivity as possible. The implication of the above formulation is to
guarantee child-birth and child-raising rights, and to permit but not to require
legislation dealing with reproductive rights, especially rights relating to the
control of fertility.


(1) Discrimination on the grounds of gender, single parenthood, legitimacy of
birth or sexual orientation shall be unlawful.

(2) Legislation shall provide remedies for oppression, abuse, harassment or
discrimination based on gender or sexual orientation.

(3) Educational institutions, the media, advertising and other social
institutions shall be under a duty to discourage sexual and other types of


(1) There shall be no discrimination against disabled persons.

(2) Legislation shall provide for measures to promote the progressive opening
up of employment opportunities for disabled men and women, the removal of
obstacles to the enjoyment by them of public amenities and their integration
into all areas of life.

NOTE: This addition is in line with recommendations by the Disabled
People of South Africa, which is actively promoting discussion amongst disabled
people on their future constitutional rights, and which points out that there
are nine million disabled persons in our country.

Article 10 CHILDREN

(1) All children shall have the right to a name, to health, to security,
education and equality of treatment.

(2) The State shall, to the maximum of its available resources, seek to
achieve progressively the full realisation of these rights.

(3) No child shall suffer discrimination or enjoy privileges on the grounds
of race, colour, gender, language, creed, legitimacy or the status of his or her

(4) In all proceedings concerning children, the primary consideration shall
be the best interests of the child.

(5) Children are entitled to be protected from economic exploitation and
shall not be permitted to perform work that is likely to be hazardous or harmful
to their education, health or moral well-being.

(6) It shall be unlawful to oblige children to work or perform services for
the employers of their parents or other family members.


While the basic thinking of the Articles on social, economic and property
rights remains the same, the formulations in these areas have been substantially
re-worked. The main difference has been to insert an entirely new section on
land rights. Coupled with this is a formulation on property rights which gives
greater emphasis to the protection of personal possessions.

At the same time, the difficult question of how to give meaningful protection
to social or so-called second generation rights, has been dealt with by making
their presentation more compact, and spelling out in the Enforcement section how
they should be made effective.


(1) All men, women and children have the right to enjoy basic social,
educational and welfare rights.

(2) Legislation shall ensure the creation of a progressively expanding floor
of minimum rights in the social, educational and welfare spheres for all in the

(3) Such legislation shall take into account national priorities, the
availability of resources and the capacity of the beneficiaries of such rights
to contribute towards the costs involved.

(4) In order to achieve a common floor of rights for the whole country,
resources may be diverted from richer to poorer areas, and timetables may be
established for the phased extension of legislation and minimum standards from
area to area.

Freedom from Hunger, the Right to Shelter and the Right to Work

(5) Special attention shall be paid to securing freedom from hunger, reducing
and where possible eliminating homelessness, unemployment and illiteracy, and to
providing basic utilities, such as water, electricity and waste disposal for

Right to Education

(6) Education shall be free and compulsory up to the age of sixteen, and
provision shall be made for facilitating access to secondary, vocational and
tertiary education on an equal basis for all.

(7) Education shall be directed towards the development of the human
personality and a sense of personal dignity, and shall aim at strengthening
respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and promoting understanding,
tolerance and friendship amongst South Africans and between nations.

Right to Health

(8) A comprehensive national health service shall be established linking
health workers, community organisations, state institutions, private medical
schemes and individual medical practitioners so as to provide hygiene education,
preventative medicine and health care delivery to all.

Right to a Minimum Income and Welfare Rights

(9) Comprehensive schemes of national insurance, funded by general revenue,
contributions or such other sources as may be appropriate, shall be established
to guarantee the furnishing of oldage pensions, family income benefits,
superannuation payments, compensation for industrial injury and disease,
unemployment benefits, child benefits and such other welfare entitlements as
citizens in a modern state may expect.

NOTE: Normally in a country as developed as South Africa, it would not
be necessary to spell out the different forms of social security that would have
to be provided. Because the limited forms of welfare started during World War 2
were scrapped by apartheid, we feel it necessary to specify the various schemes
so that people understand what is meant by social security.


(1) The land, the waters and the sky and all the natural assets which they
contain, are the common heritage of the people of South Africa who are equally
entitled to their enjoyment and responsible for their conservation.

(2) The system of property rights in relation to land shall take into account
that it is the country's primary asset, the basis of life's necessities, and a
finite resource.

Rights to Land

(3) South Africa belongs to all who live in it.

(4) Access to land or other living space is the birthright of all South

(5) No-one shall be removed from his or her home except by order of a Court,
which shall take into account the existence of reasonable alternative

(6) Legislation shall provide that the system of administration, ownership,
occupation, use and transfer of land is equitable, directed at the provision of
adequate housing for the whole population, promotes productive use of land and
provides for stable and secure tenure,

(7) Legislation shall provide for the establishment of a tribunal for land
claims which shall have the power to adjudicate upon land claims made on legal
or equitable grounds, and in particular shall have:

a) the power to order the restoration of land to people dispossessed by
forced removals, or where appropriate to direct that compensation be paid, or
other suitable acknowledgment be made, for injury done to them;

b) the power to award particular portions of land, or rights to land, to such
claimants, where there are special circumstances arising out of use, occupation
or other similar grounds, which make it equitable for such an award to be made.

(8) Legislation shall also make provision for access to affordable land to be
given as far as possible, and with due regard to financial and other resources
available to the state, to those historically deprived of land and land rights,
or deprived of access to land by past statutory discrimination.

(9) All such legislation shall guarantee fair procedures and be based on the
principle of achieving an equitable balance between the public interest,
including the above objectives, and the interests of those whose existing titles
might be affected.

(10) Any redistribution of land or interest in land required to achieve the
above objectives shall be subject to just compensation which shall be determined
according to the principle of equitable balance between public interest and the
interest of those whose existing titles might be affected.

(11) In the case of a dispute regarding compensation, provision shall be made
for recourse to an independent tribunal, with an appeal to the courts.

(12) All natural resources below and above the surface area of the land,
including the air, and all forms of potential energy or minerals in the
territorial waters, the continental shelf and the exclusive economic zone of
South Africa, which are not otherwise owned at the time of coming into being of
this Constitution, shall be vested in the state acting as trustee of the whole

(13) The State shall have the right to regulate the exploitation of all
natural resources, grant franchises and determine royalties subject to payment
of just compensation in the event of interference with any existing title,
mining right or concession.

NOTE: Do the above provisions cover forced removals under Group Areas

Environmental Rights

(14) All men and women shall have the right to a healthy and ecologically
balanced environment and the duty to defend it.

(15) In order to secure this right, the State, acting through appropriate
agencies and organs shall conserve, protect and improve the environment, and in

  1. prevent and control pollution of the air and waters and degradation and
    erosion of the soil;
  2. have regard in local, regional and national planning to the maintenance or
    creation of balanced ecological and biological areas and to the prevention
    or minimising of harmful effects on the environment;
  3. promote the rational use of natural resources, safeguarding their capacity
    for renewal and ecological stability.
  4. ensure that long-term damage is not done to the environment by industrial
    or other forms of waste;
  5. maintain, create and develop natural reserves, parks and recreational
    areas and classify and protect other sites and landscapes so as to ensure
    the preservation and protection of areas of outstanding cultural, historic
    and natural interest.

(16) Legislation shall provide for co-operation between the State,
non-governmental organisations, local communities and individuals in seeking to
improve the environment and encourage ecologically sensible habits in daily

(17) The law shall provide for appropriate penalties and reparation in the
case of any damage caused to the environment, and permit the interdiction by any
interested person or by any agency established for the purpose of protecting the
environment, of any public or private activity or undertaking which manifestly
and unreasonably causes or threatens to cause irreparable damage to the

Article 13 PROPERTY

(1) All South Africans shall, without discrimination, have the right to
undisturbed enjoyment of their personal possessions, and, individually, in
association or through lawfully constituted bodies, be entitled to acquire, hold
or dispose of property.

(2) The content and limits of these rights and the rights to inheritance,
shall be determined by law.

(3) Property rights impose obligations and their exercise should not be in
conflict with the public interest.

(4) The taking of property shall only be permissible according to law and in
the public interest, which shall include the achievement of the objectives of
the Constitution.

(5) Any such taking shall be subject to just compensation which shall be
determined by establishing an equitable balance between the public interest and
the interest of those affected.

(6) In the case of a dispute regarding compensation, provision shall be made
for recourse to a special independent tribunal, with an appeal to the Courts.

(7) Legislation on economic matters shall be guided by the principle of
encouraging collaboration between the public, private, co-operative, communal
and small-scale family sectors with a view to reducing inequality, promoting
growth and providing goods and services for the whole population.

NOTE: This kind of clause would fit well into a section called
Directives of State Policy. For present purposes we leave it here. There is much
argument about whether principles governing economic life should be in a
constitution at all. If there is strong insistence on having some constitutional
reference, then we would favour a balanced clause such as the above.

(8) The above provisions shall not be interpreted as impeding legislation
such as might be deemed necessary in a democratic society with a mixed economy
which may be adopted with a view to providing for the regulation or control of
property or for its use or acquisition by public or para-statal authorities in
accordance with the general interest, or which is aimed at preserving the
environment, regulating or curtailing cartels or monopolies or securing the
payment of taxes or other contributions or penalties.

NOTE: Reference to a mixed economy may be unnecessarily provocative
both to those who favour an extensive free market and those who wish for
considerable state intervention. It is not normal to have any constitutional
prescription on either issue.

(9) This Article shall be read subject to and in harmony with the provisions
of Article 12.


(1) Nothing in the Constitution shall prevent the enactment of legislation,
or the adoption by any public or private body of special measures of a positive
kind designed to procure the advancement and the opening up of opportunities,
including access to education, skills, employment and land, and the general
advancement in social, economic and cultural spheres, of men and women who in
the past have been disadvantaged by discrimination.

(2) Any action taken in terms of the above shall not be deemed to contradict
the principle of equal rights for all South Africans as set out in Article 1.

NOTE: The phrasing in the original text was interpreted to mean that
the principle of affirmative action would be so powerful as to override all
personal rights and freedoms as well as to supersede the specific provisions of
the property clauses. The new formulation removes any ambiguity on the subject,
and makes it clear that its ambit is to supplement and strengthen the equality
clause, not to override other provisions in the Bill of Rights. The property
clause has special provisions dealing with affirmative action in relation to
land. The following Article deals with special measures that have to be taken to
remove inequality.


NOTE: The word "affirmative action" is used in this document
only to deal with cases where in order to overcome past discrimination special
support is given to black persons and women. Article 14 makes it clear that such
kind of intervention aimed at achieving real equality shall not be regarded as
unconstitutional, even if it expressly takes account of race or gender. Article
15 goes beyond merely permitting certain kinds of activity. It actually requires
the taking of steps to overcome the imbalances in our society created by
apartheid and to promote non-racism and non-sexism.

(1) In its activities and functioning, the State shall observe the principles
of non-racialism and non-sexism, and encourage the same in all public and
private bodies.

(2) All benefits conferred and entitlements granted by the State shall be
distributed on a non-racist and a non-sexist basis.

(3) The State and all public and private bodies shall be under a duty to
prevent any form of incitement to racial, religious or linguistic hostility and
to dismantle all structures and do away with all practices that compulsorily
divide the population on grounds of race, colour, language, gender or creed.

(4) With a view to achieving the above, the State may enact legislation to
prohibit the circulation or possession of materials which incite racial, ethnic,
religious, gender or linguistic hatred, which provoke violence, or which
insult,) degrade, defame or encourage abuse of any racial, ethnic, religious,
gender or linguistic group.

(5) All organs of the State at the national, regional and local levels shall
pursue policies and programmes aimed at redressing the consequences of past
discriminatory laws and practices, and at the creation of a genuine non-racial
democracy in South Africa.

(6) Such policies shall include the implementation of programmes aimed at
achieving speedily the balanced structuring in non-racial form of the public
service, defence and police forces and the prison service according to the
principles of representativity, competence, impartiality and accountability.

(7) In taking steps to correct patterns or practices of discrimination,
special attention shall be paid to rectifying the inequalities to which women in
South Africa have been subjected, and to ensuring their full, equal, effective
and dignified participation in the political, social, economic and cultural life
of the nation.

(8) Legislation may be enacted requiring non-governmental organisations and
private bodies to conduct themselves in accordance with the above principles.


(1) Nothing in the Constitution shall be interpreted as implying for any
group or person the right to engage in any activity or perform any act aimed at
the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth in the Constitution,
or at their limitation or suppression to a degree other than is authorised by
the Constitution itself.

(2) Nothing in this Constitution shall be interpreted as impeding the right
of the State to enact legislation regulating the manner in which fundamental
rights and freedoms shall be exercised, or limiting such rights, provided that
such regulation or limitation is such as might generally be deemed necessary in
an open and democratic society.

(3) Any restrictions permitted under the Constitution to fundamental rights
and freedoms shall not be applied to or used as a cover for any purpose other
than that for which they have been expressly or by necessary implication

(4) Any law providing for any regulation or limitation of any fundamental
right or freedom shall:

  1. be of general application;
  2. not negate the essential content of the right, but simply qualify the way
    that right is to be exercised or the circumstances in which derogation from
    the right is permitted;
  3. as far as practicable, identify the specific clauses of the Constitution
    relied upon for the limitation of the right and the specific clauses of the
    Constitution affected by the legislation;
  4. specify as precisely as possible the exact reach of the limitation and the
    circumstances in which it shall apply.

NOTE: These provisions follow the basic format of limitation clauses
used in the European Convention of Human Rights and other similar documents. A
general clause like this is needed so as to avoid cluttering up the Bill of
Rights with detailed exceptions to each and every clause. Thus, it would be
inconvenient to have to spell out such generally accepted limitations on freedom
of speech as restrictions on reporting the names of minors in court proceedings,
or on speech designed to put pressure on judges during a trial.



(1) The terms of the Bill of Rights shall be binding upon the State and
organs of government at all levels, and where appropriate, on all social
institutions and persons.

(2) The fundamental rights and freedoms contained in this Bill of Rights
shall be guaranteed by the courts.

(3) Without interfering with its independence, and with a view to ensuring
that justice is manifestly seen to be done in a non-racial way and that the
wisdom, experience and judicial skills of all South Africans are represented on
the bench, the judiciary shall be transformed in such a way as to consist of men
and women drawn from all sectors of South African society.

(4) All persons who claim that rights guaranteed them by this Bill of Rights
have been infringed or threatened, shall be entitled to apply to a competent
court for an order for the declaration or enforcement of their rights, or for
the restraining of any act which impedes or threatens such rights.

(5) Any law or executive or administrative act which violates the terms of
this Bill of Rights shall be invalid to the extent of such violation, save that
the court shall have the discretion in appropriate cases to put the relevant
body or official on terms as to how and within what period to remedy the

Constitutional Court

(6) Provision shall be made for the establishment of a Constitutional Court.

NOTE: We favour a Constitutional Court which will be representative
and newly created. We do not support the idea of simply making it a section of
the existing Appellate Division. Should this point be made here, or does it
belong in the part of the Constitution dealing with the judiciary?

Human Rights Commission

(7) Parliament shall establish by legislation a Human Rights Commission to
promote general observance of the Bill of Rights and in particular to help
enforce the right to non-discrimination.

NOTE: This body is conceived of as having the functions similar to
those of agencies, boards or commissions established in countries like the USA,
the UK and Australia to secure compliance with anti-discrimination legislation.

(8) Such Commission shall have the right to establish agencies for
investigating patterns of violation of any of the terms of the Bill of Rights
and for receiving complaints, attempting conciliation and bringing proceedings
in court where appropriate, with special attention to violation of the
principles contained in Article 1.

(9) The Commission shall monitor proposed legislation with a view to
reporting to Parliament on its potential impact on the realisation of the rights
set out in the Bill of Rights.

(10) The Commission shall also have the right to create agencies to monitor
progress being made in the materialisation of basic social, educational and
welfare rights, report on and make proposals for the removal of impediments to
their achievement, and require the furnishing to Parliament, regional and local
authorities and to the public at large of all such information as would assist
in bringing about their realisation.

(11) The Courts shall enforce such social, education and welfare rights as
are established by legislation, or identified by the Constitutional Court
through interpretation of the Constitution and shall pay due regard to social,
educational and welfare rights when considering the interpretation of statutes,
the validity of subordinate legislation and the reasonableness of administrative

(12) Where justice and the achievement of the objectives of the Bill of
Rights so require, the state or any private body or individual may be restrained
by the Courts from doing anything which interferes with or reduces enjoyment of
these rights or impedes their realisation.

NOTE: This is a form of making social rights justiciable. The courts
are given the power to restrain interference with these rights (for example,
bulldozing people's houses). They are sometimes referred to social rights in the
negative sense, that is, that nothing may be done to diminish them, even though
the courts might not have the power to order positive rights, say, that homes
and jobs be provided.


(13) With a view to ensuring that all functions and duties under the
Constitution are carried out in a fair way with due respect for the rights and
sentiments of those affected, the office of Ombudsman) shall be created.

NOTE: In Norway, the country that gave us the institution, the person
is now called Ombud and not Ombudsman and we follow suit.

(14) The Ombud shall be appointed by the State President subject to
confirmation by the Senate.

(15) The Ombud shall be appointed for a term to be determined by Act of
Parliament, and may only be removed by the President, acting on the advice of
the Senate, on grounds of gross misconduct or mental incapacity.

(16) The Ombud shall be independent in the carrying out of his or her
functions and shall serve in a full-time capacity and may open offices in
different parts of the country.

(17) The Ombud shall receive and investigate complaints from members of the
public concerning abuse of power or unfair, insensitive, capricious, harsh,
discourteous or unduly delayed or discriminatory treatment of any person by any
official of government at national, regional or local level, or any attempt by
such official to extort benefits or corruptly to receive favours.

(18) In accordance with his or her findings, the Ombud may initiate legal
proceedings, refer the matter for prosecution, negotiate a compromise, issue a
public communication, or make a report to the department or organ concerned
containing recommendations with a view to remedying the improper conduct,
preventing repetition, and, where appropriate, making amends, including
compensation. Jurisdiction

(19) Recourse to the Human Rights Commission or to the Ombud shall not oust
the jurisdiction of the courts to hear any matter.


(1) If there is a threat to the sovereignty of South Africa, which in the
opinion of the President calls for such a declaration to be made, the President
may by Proclamation declare that a state of national defence exists in South

(2) At a time of national disaster, or grave public emergency, or danger
threatening the life of the nation or the democratic constitutional order and if
the ordinary laws of the land are not sufficient to meet the exigencies of such
national disaster, public emergency or danger, the President may, by
Proclamation, declare that a state of emergency exists in South Africa.


(1) When a state of national defence or a state of emergency exists, the
President may, by Proclamation, enact defence or emergency measures which are
necessary for the protection of the sovereignty of South Africa, national
security, or public safety or for the defence of the Constitution.

(2) Defence and emergency measures shall have the force of law and subject to
Articles 20, 21 22, 23, may repeal, amend or suspend the operation of any
existing law, including certain provisions of Chapter 2 of the Constitution.
Such measures may be proclaimed for the whole of the country, or for any part of


(1) A declaration of a state of national defence or of a state of emergency
shall cease to have effect if it is not ratified within fourteen days by a
resolution of the National Assembly. If the National Assembly is not in session
when such a declaration is made, the President shall immediately convene a
special session of the National Assembly to address this issue.

(2) A state of national defence that has been ratified by the National
Assembly under Sub-article (1) shall continue until peace has been declared by
the President.

(3) A state of emergency which has been ratified by the National Assembly
under sub-article (1) shall continue until terminated by the President: provided
that if it has endured for a period of six months from the date of proclamation,
it will automatically lapse unless the National Assembly by a resolution taken
prior to the expiration of the six month period, approves its extension for a
further six months or a shorter period. Any prolongation of the state of
emergency thereafter, shall be limited to successive periods of not more than
six months which shall on each occasion require the approval of a resolution of
the National Assembly passed by a two-thirds majority.

(4) During the period of any state of emergency or state of national defence

  1. While the National Assembly is in session, the President shall report to
    it at intervals of not more than one month about the operation of the
    special emergency and national defence measures and the National Assembly
    shall receive and promptly consider such reports;
  2. if the National Assembly is not in session, the President shall convene
    special sessions, of the National Assembly at intervals of not more than
    three months from the date of the declaration of the state of emergency or
    state of national defence or from the date on which a report by him on the
    operation of the special emergency measures was last made to the National
    Assembly, for the purpose of receiving and considering a report from him
    about the operation of the special emergency measures and to conduct such
    other business as the National Assembly may decide.

(5) The National Assembly may at any time by resolution revoke the
declaration of emergency or state of defence or restrict the area of their
operation or repeal or amend the terms of any emergency measures.

(6) During the period of any state of emergency the power of the President to
dissolve the National Assembly and the Senate may not be exercised unless a
resolution of the National Assembly is passed authorising him to do so. If the
President is required by the Constitution or the electoral law to call for new
elections during an emergency, then such elections shall be held as
expeditiously as possible in accordance with the provisions of the existing law
and the new National Assembly shall be convened without delay.


Neither the President nor the National Assembly shall have the power to pass
a defence or an emergency measure which

(1) derogates from or suspends the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Bill
of Rights other than those referred to in Articles 2(9) [forbidding detention
without trial], (10) [no arrest or detention except for trial on criminal
charge], (11) [informed of charge, right to legal representation and brought to
court timeously], (12) [right to bail], (13) [right to public and fair trial
before independent court], (31) [no search or entry to property without
reasonable cause], (32) [interference with private communication, spying etc],
and (33) [freedom of movement, passport, right to leave and enter country],
Article 4 [freedom of speech, assembly and right to information], Article 13(1)
[peaceful possession of property and goods], and Article 12 (14), (15), (16) and
(17) [environmental rights], provided that the derogation where permissible
shall not be greater than is necessary for the purpose of national defence or
the emergency; or

(2) suspends or derogates from the provisions of any other chapter of the
Constitution; or

(3) establishes special courts or tribunals, other than the review board
referred to in Article 21; or

(4) make provision for prospective indemnities; or

(5) is contrary to international law or international obligations.


Where any persons are detained without trial in terms of any defence or
emergency measure, the following provisions shall apply:

(1) They shall immediately be informed of the reason for their detention, an
adult family member or friend nominated by the detainee shall promptly be
notified of the detention and there shall be prompt publication in the Gazette
of their names and the legal provisions under which they are held;

(2) They shall have access to a legal representative of their choice at all
reasonable times.

(3) Their detention shall be reviewed within one month of their detention,
and thereafter if they remain in detention at intervals of not less than three
months, by a review board presided over by a judge of the Supreme Court, which
shall have the power to order their release from detention if satisfied that it
is not reasonably necessary for their detention to be continued for the purpose
of national defence or the emergency.

(4) Detainees shall be given opportunity to make representations to the
review board in such form as the board may consider to be desirable in the
circumstances, taking into account the public interest and their interests, and
for that purpose shall be given access to such information as the board may
consider to be necessary, with due regard to such interests, and shall also be
entitled to be represented before the board at the time when their cases are to
be considered by the board.

(5) The decision of the review board shall be made known to the detainee and
to the adult family member or friend nominated by the detainee.

(6) The right of the detainee to question the legality or the conditions of
detention by recourse to judicial review shall not be affected by the provisions


(1) Notwithstanding the provisions of Article 14 (4), (5) and (6) hereof, a
defence or an emergency measure may authorise the expropriation or commandeering
of any property for the purposes of national defence or the emergency;

(2) Such defence or emergency measure shall provide:

  1. that the property commandeered, unless it has been consumed for the
    purpose for which it was commandeered, be restored to the person from whom
    it was taken when it is no longer required for the purpose of national
    defence or the emergency;
  2. that compensation shall be paid for property that is expropriated, or
    property which, having been commandeered, is destroyed or damaged prior to
    its restoration to the person from whom it was taken; and
  3. that the compensation payable shall be assessed with due regard to the
    needs and interests of the State which were served by the expropriation or
    commandeering, and the interests of the person who has suffered loss as a
    result of the loss of or damage to such property.

(3) The defence or emergency measures may provide that compensation shall not
be payable for the temporary loss of the use of property which has been
commandeered in terms of such measures, unless the person from which the
property was taken used or intended to use the property for the subsistence of
his or her family, or for the purpose of producing an income, in which event the
compensation payable shall be assessed in accordance with the principles set out
in sub-article (2) hereof, provided that the compensation shall in no event be
more than is strictly necessary to compensate the persons concerned for the loss
they have actually suffered as a result of the property having been