Political prisoners

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.

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.

po034. Release All Southern African Political Prisoners

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

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. 

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.

pic7719. ‘Free All Political Prisoners’, August 1977

In the year after the 1976 Soweto student uprising, many more people were detained by the South African police and brutally tortured. On 18 August 1977, as the number of people who died in detention continued to rise, a poster parade around Trafalgar Square was organised by Southern Africa the Imprisoned Society (SATIS). The parade was attended by over 300 people and successfully publicised the plight of those interned in detention centres and gaols in South Africa. 

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.