Section 235 of the Constitution: Too soon or too late for cultural self-determination in South Africa?

Authors Bertus de Villiers

ISSN: 1996-2126
Affiliations: Member of the State Administrative Tribunal of Western Australia and a Visiting Fellow of the Law Faculty of the University of Western Australia
Source: South African Journal on Human Rights, Volume 30 Issue 3, 2014, p. 458 – 483


Section 235 of the Constitution acknowledges the right of cultural groups to self-determination. Giving practical effect to s 235 is a task to be undertaken by a future Parliament. This article explores the concept of non-territorial, also called cultural autonomy, whereby culture groups can establish a legal person clothed with public law powers as an organ of government to make decisions about the protection and promotion of their culture, language and customs. Several case studies where cultural autonomy is applied are referred to and recommendations are made for future consideration in South Africa.