Advance Search

Up

Political prisoners

gov05. Letter from Basil Manning to James Callaghan

Letter from AAM Executive Secretary Basil Manning, written on behalf of Southern Africa the Imprisoned Society (SATIS), to Foreign Secretary James Callaghan, asking the British government to send observers to the trial of black consciousness movement leaders in South Africa in 1975.

 
pri21. Protest against SASO trial

In the mid-1970s students became the focus of opposition in South Africa, many of them supporters of the black consciousness movement. This leaflet highlighted the case of nine SASO members charged under the Terrorism Act. It also called for the release of NUSAS President Karel Tip.

 
pic7502. ‘Release political prisoners’

AAM supporters picketed South Africa in solidarity with 13 SASO (South African Student Organisation) and BPC (Black People’s Convention) leaders on trial in Pretoria, on 21 April 1975. They were joined by marchers who had walked from Brighton to raise money for SATIS (Southern Africa the Imprisoned Society).

 
pic7503. ‘We Mourn Bram Fischer’

Bram Fischer was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1966 for conspiring to commit sabotage and membership of the South African Communist Party. In 1963–64 he led the defence team at the trial of Nelson Mandela and his co-accused. The following year he went underground to keep anti-apartheid resistance alive within South Africa. The South African government refused to release him until a few days before his death from cancer on 8 May 1975. More than 300 people people gathered to honour him outside South Africa House.

 
pic7504. ‘Free student leaders’

AAM demonstrators picketed South Africa House in August 1975 to protest against continuing detentions without trial in South Africa, including that of the Afrikaans poet Breyten Breytenbach. They also called for the release of the nine leaders of the South African Student Organisation (SASO) and Black People’s Convention (BPC) leaders on trial under the Terrorism Act.

 
 
pri20. ‘The Voice of Freedom’

Programme for an evening of music and readings to mark Human Rights Day and raise funds for campaigns for Southern African political prisoners. Among the performers were actor Ian McKellen and South African saxophonist Dudu Pukwana.

 
pic7511. Protest against detentions, 1975

Anti-apartheid supporters picketed South Africa House calling for the release of all those detained without trial in South Africa in August 1975. They were protesting at the resumption of the trial of members of the South African Students Organisation (SASO) and the Black People’s Convention (BPC), which opened in April 1975 and the detention of six more people, including Afrikaans poet Breyten Breytenbach. On the left is former political prisoner Ben Turok.

 

 
pri22. Protest at death of Joseph Mdluli

Joseph Mdluli was an anti-apartheid activist who died within 24 hours of his arrest by the South African Security Police. By the end of 1976 26 detainees were known to have died in detention. This leaflet advertised a picket of the South African Embassy to protest against police torture and call for the release of all South African political prisoners.

 
Pic7608. Protest against the death of Joseph Mdluli

Former Robben Island prisoner Joseph Mdluli was killed by South African Security Police on 19 March 1976, the day after he was detained under the Terrorism Act. This picket by 300 ANC and AAM supporters on 9 April was the climax of a three-day protest against his death outside South Africa House. In the photograph are Bishops Richard Wood and Colin Winter.

 
 
pic7601. ‘Stop Deaths in Detention’

Former Robben Island prisoner Joseph Mdluli was killed by South African Security Police on 19 March 1976, the day after he was detained under the Terrorism Act. This picket was part of a three-day protest outside South Africa House, 7–9 April. Demonstrators carried placards with the names of the 23 other people known to have died in detention. In the mid-1970s there was a big increase in the number of South Africans detained without trial.

 
pic7607. Actors protest

British actors, including Sheila Hancock, Albert Finney, Robert Morley, Kenneth Williams and Kenneth Haigh, handed in a letter to South Africa House on 13 October 1976. They were calling for the release of South African actors John Kani and Winston Tshona. Other signatories were Dame Peggy Ashcroft and playwrights David Hare and Howard Brenton. 

 
pic7609. Protest against deaths in detention

Students protested outside the South African Embassy on 20 October 1976 against the deaths of four more detainees in South Africa. A deputation later delivered a letter signed by National Union of Students and National Union of School Students Presidents Charles Clarke and Dan Hopewell to Prime Minister James Callaghan, asking him to make representations to the South African government. The four murdered detainees included three students and an unnamed man who died in police custody in Carletonville, west of Johannesburg.

 
pic7705. Conference against Repression, April 1977

Participants in a conference on Repression in Southern Africa organised by the AAM and Southern Africa the Imprisoned Society (SATIS) on 16 April 1977. Specialist groups discussed campaigning among lawyers, trade unionists, students, church people and journalists. Two groups focused on Zimbabwe and Namibia. Left to right: Rev Cecil Begbie, Nkosazana Dlamini, Horst Kleinschmidt, SWAPO representative Shapua Kaukungua and ZAPU representative Arthur Chadzingwa.

 
po030. Free the Pretoria 12

Poster publicising the campaign for 12 South Africans charged under the Terrorism Act in June 1977. The 12 were charged with recruiting people for military training and organising sabotage attacks. After an international campaign for their release, six were acquitted and six were sentenced to long jail terms in April 1978. Among those sentenced was Tokyo Sexwale, who had left South Africa for military training and infiltrated back into South Africa. 

 
po031. Stop the Torture of South African Political Detainees

In the mid-1970s there was a big increase in the number of detainees tortured to death by the South African security police. In 1977 Steve Biko was the 46th detainee known to have died in police custody. This poster was one of a set of three published as part of the international campaign for South African political prisoners.

 
po032. Stop Deaths in Detention

This poster features a photograph of Joseph Mdluli, an ANC activist killed by Security Police after being detained without trial in March 1976. In the mid-1970s there was a big increase in the number of detainees tortured to death. Daily pickets were held outside South Africa House in London for six weeks in May–June 1976 to protest against the deaths. This poster was one of a set of three published as part of the international campaign for the release of South African political prisoners.

 
po034. Release All Southern African Political Prisoners

Poster was published for the international campaign for the release of South African political prisoners. It shows prisoners breaking rocks on Robben Island.

 
po033. Release All South African Political Prisoners

This poster was one of a set of three published as part of the international campaign for South African political prisoners.

 
pic7711. ‘Free political prisoners’, 1977

Anti-apartheid protesters picketed the South African Embassy on 11 October 1977, UN Day for Southern African political prisoners. They collected signatures for an international petition calling for the release of the Pretoria 12, 11 men and one woman charged under the Terrorism Act with recruiting people to undergo military training. The 12 included ANC veterans and students who had joined Umkhonto we Sizwe after the 1976 Soweto uprising. Eventually six were sentenced to long jail sentences and six were acquitted.

 
nam43. ‘Free the Kassinga detainees’

On 4 May 1978 South African troops massacred over 600 Namibian refugees at Kassinga in southern Angola. After the massacre hundreds of Namibians were abducted from refugee transit centres in southern Angola and around 130 of them were detained indefinitely at a South African military base in northern Namibia. Southern Africa the Imprisoned Society (SATIS) and the Namibia Support Committee campaigned for their release. These postcards called on the South African government to free them and asked the British Foreign Secretary and UN Secretary General to intervene. The detainees were eventually released in 1984.

 
 
 
Powered by Phoca Download