Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996

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Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996
enacted by the Constitutional Assembly of South Africa and amended by the Parliament of South Africa
as amended

The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996, is the current constitution that forms the basis for the law and government of the nation of South Africa. It enumerates a bill of rights for the people of South Africa. It describes the division of South Africa into nine provinces, and establishes the structure of national, provincial and local spheres of government and the principles that govern the interaction between the spheres. It establishes a single independent national judiciary along with various other independent organisations to support democracy and the constitution.

The 1996 Constitution was enacted in 1996 in one of the phases of the transition process from apartheid to democracy. It replaced an Interim Constitution which was drafted in 1993 by the Multiparty Negotiating Forum and came into effect on the day of the elections of 1994. The Interim Constitution required the two houses of Parliament to sit jointly as the Constitutional Assembly to draft the text of the new Constitution. This text was then referred to the Constitutional Court to certify its compliance with a set of Constitutional Principles laid down in the Interim Constitution. The Court refused to certify the first draft text, so it returned to the Constitutional Assembly for revision. The second draft text was accepted by the Court and signed by President Nelson Mandela in December 1996.

A presidential proclamation brought most sections of the Constitution into force on 4 February 1997, except for section 160 (1) (b), which came into effect on 30 June 1997; and sections 213–216, 218, and 226–230, which, in terms of section 243 (5), only came into force on 1 January 1998.

Since its enactment, the Constitution has been amended sixteen times. Significant amendments include the enactment and subsequent repeal of floor crossing, and various adjustments of the provincial boundaries. Some of these boundary changes have experienced significant popular opposition in the areas concerned, notably in Khutsong and Matatiele.

This version of the Constitution includes all amendments up to and including those introduced by the Constitution Seventeenth Amendment Act of 2012. A number of older versions are also available, including the original unamended text.

To introduce a new Constitution for the Republic of South Africa and to provide for matters incidental thereto

as amended by

Constitution First Amendment Act of 1997
Constitution Second Amendment Act of 1998
Constitution Third Amendment Act of 1998
Constitution Fourth Amendment Act of 1999
Constitution Fifth Amendment Act of 1999
Constitution Sixth Amendment Act of 2001
Constitution Seventh Amendment Act of 2001
Constitution Eighth Amendment Act of 2002
Constitution Ninth Amendment Act of 2002
Constitution Tenth Amendment Act of 2003
Constitution Eleventh Amendment Act of 2003
Constitution Twelfth Amendment Act of 2005
Constitution Thirteenth Amendment Act of 2007
Constitution Fourteenth Amendment Act of 2008
Constitution Fifteenth Amendment Act of 2008
Constitution Sixteenth Amendment Act of 2009
Constitution Seventeenth Amendment Act of 2012


Chapter 1
Founding Provisions
Chapter 2
Bill of Rights
Chapter 3
Co-operative Government
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
The President and National Executive
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Local Government
Chapter 8
Courts and Administration of Justice
Chapter 9
State Institutions Supporting Constitutional Democracy
Chapter 10
Public Administration
Chapter 11
Security Services
Chapter 12
Traditional Leaders
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
General Provisions
Schedule 1
National Flag
Schedule 1A
Geographical Areas of Provinces
Schedule 2
Oaths and Solemn Affirmations
Schedule 3
Election Procedures
Schedule 4
Functional Areas of Concurrent National and Provincial Legislative Competence
Schedule 5
Functional Areas of Exclusive Provincial Competence
Schedule 6
Transitional Arrangements
Schedule 7
Laws Repealed


We, the people of South Africa,

Recognise the injustices of our past;

Honour those who suffered for justice and freedom in our land;

Respect those who have worked to build and develop our country; and

Believe that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, united in our diversity.

We therefore, through our freely elected representatives, adopt this Constitution as the supreme law of the Republic so as to—

Heal the divisions of the past and establish a society based on democratic values, social justice and fundamental human rights;

Lay the foundations for a democratic and open society in which government is based on the will of the people and every citizen is equally protected by law;

Improve the quality of life of all citizens and free the potential of each person; and

Build a united and democratic South Africa able to take its rightful place as a sovereign state in the family of nations.

May God protect our people.

Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika. Morena boloka setjhaba sa heso.
God seën Suid-Afrika. God bless South Africa.
Mudzimu fhatutshedza Afurika. Hosi katekisa Afrika.

This work is in the public domain because it was created and first published in South Africa and it is an official text of a legislative, administrative or legal nature, or an official translation of such a text.

According to the Copyright Act, 1978, § 12 (8) (a), "No copyright shall subsist in official texts of a legislative, administrative or legal nature, or in official translations of such texts."

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