Chapter 2

Bill Of Rights

Chapter 2 sets out the Bill of Rights, arguably the part of the Constitution that has had the greatest impact on peoples’ daily lives. The first words of the chapter say it clearly: “This Bill of Rights is a cornerstone of democracy in South Africa.” 

This chapter sets out the fundamental rights of not just South African citizens but in some respects of everyone. It protects individuals against the government’s violations of their rights and establishes the government’s duties towards the people. The Bill of Rights also states when rights may be limited.

Although this is not the longest chapter in the Constitution, it is a crucial part of the Constitution as it protects individuals from abuse of power by the state. Chapter 2 affirms a number of important rights such as human dignity, which it states is inherent in all human beings, and that everyone is entitled to be treated with respect and concern. An extensive equality clause states that all individuals are equal before the law and that no one should be unfairly discriminated against on the basis of their race or gender, ethnicity, social origin and sexual orientation, etc. The freedom clause acknowledges the power of individuals to make choices towards their personal development and fulfilment.


Audio Visual

President Mandela gives his State of the Nation address in Parliament. Mandela ends his address with the words, “Let us all get down to work”.

“We must construct that people-centred society of freedom in such a manner that it guarantees the political and the human rights of all our citizens.”– President Mandela, extract from State of the Nation Address, 24 May 1994

President Nelson Mandela announces his cabinet. It includes members of the African National Congress, National Party and Inkatha Freedom Party.

“There was pride in serving in the first democratic government in South Africa, and then the additional pride of serving under the iconic leadership of Nelson Mandela … [He] represented the hopes of not just our country, but of oppressed, marginalised and the poor in the world.”– Jay Naidoo, then Minister of RDP housing
“We place our vision of a new constitutional order for South Africa on the table not as conquerors, prescribing to the conquered. We speak as fellow citizens to heal the wounds of the past with the intent of constructing a new order based on justice for all.”– President Nelson Mandela, 10 May 1994