How to Cite Legislation in South Africa?

Citing Legislation in South Africa requires adherence to specific guidelines to ensure clarity, accuracy, and consistency in legal and academic writing. This guide outlines the essential principles and formats for correctly citing South African legislation, including Acts and the Constitution, with practical examples.

General Guidelines for Citing Legislation

  • Legislation should be referenced without the inclusion of “No.” (indicating the number of the Act) and without any punctuation marks. For instance, National Water Act 36 of 1998.
  • The full reference must be provided when legislation is referenced for the first time, either in the text or in a footnote. Subsequent references can be abbreviated.
  • A footnote is unnecessary if the full citation to an Act is provided in the text.
  • When only the short title is mentioned in the text, the number and year should be provided in the footnote.
  • If a single act or statute is central to the discussion, it can be abbreviated as “the Act” after the first full mention.
  • When referencing sections within legislation, “Section” should be written out at the beginning of a footnote but can be abbreviated to “s” or “ss” for sections when mentioned later in the footnote or text.
  • The official reference to the South African Constitution is Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996.

Examples of Citing Legislation

  • Footnote Examples:
    1. Section 1 of the Social Housing Act 16 of 2008. See also s 26(1) of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996.
  • Bibliography Entry under “Legislation”:
    • Social Housing Act 16 of 2008.

Detailed Referencing Instructions

  • First Reference: National Water Act 36 of 1998 (hereafter the NWA) or (hereafter the Water Act). Include the abbreviated form in the list of abbreviations.
  • In-text Short Title Reference: Auditing Profession Act (in the text) and 26 of 2005 (in the footnote).
  • Discussion Based on a Single Act: “Section 31(2) of the Provision of Safety Act 10 of 2001 (hereafter the Act) states that … The Act further provides that …”

Constitution References

  • The official citation for the Constitution is: Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996.
  • For the transitional/interim Constitution, reference as: Constitution of the Republic of South Africa 200 of 1993.


By following these guidelines, writers and researchers can ensure their citations of South African Legislation and the Constitution are accurate and conform to standard practices in legal and academic writing.

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