Political prisoners

pic7404. London to Manchester walk

South African former political prisoners took part in a walk from London to Manchester, 27 October–6 November 1974. They held meetings along the way to publicise the situation of political prisoners. In the photograph the marchers are leaving Banbury, where they were met by Labour councillors and held a meeting in the Town Hall.

pic7405. Angela Davis in London

US civil rights leader and former prisoner Angela Davis visited London to campaign for South African political prisoners, 10–13 December 1974. She spoke at a meeting at Friends House organised by the AAM, International Defence and Aid Fund (IDAF) and Liberation. She said black Americans felt a special responsibility to support the struggle of their sisters and brothers in Southern Africa. On the right is future Labour Cabinet Minister Charles Clarke.

po025. Wanted: Freedom for Ahmed Kathrada

In the early 1970s AAM local groups adopted individual South African political prisoners and campaigned on their behalf. West London AA Group took up the case of Ahmed Kathrada, sentenced to life imprisonment at the Rivonia trial in 1964. Kathrada spent 25 years in prison and was released in November 1989.

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.

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.