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.

pic7801. ‘Freedom for Winnie Mandela’

Anti-apartheid women supporters demanded an end to police harassment of Winnie Mandela at a demonstration at South Africa House on 9 February, 1978. She was charged with breaking the banning order that confined her to Brandfort, an African township outside Bloemfontein.

70s22. Memorial service for Steve Biko

Leaflet publicising a memorial service for Steve Biko on 12 September 1978, the first anniversary of his death. Southern Africa the Imprisoned Society (SATIS) hung a banner from the roof of St Martin’s in the Fields, next to the South African Embassy, listing the names of all those who had died in detention in South Africa.

pic7804. Steve Biko protest

On the first anniversary of the death of Steve Biko on 12 September 1978, Southern Africa the Imprisoned Society (SATIS) unfurled a 90-foot banner from the roof of St Martin’s in the Fields. It listed the names of all those known to have died under interrogation by the South African Security Police. Inside the church a special service commemorated Steve Biko’s life.

pri39. Remember Steve Biko

Black consciousness leader Steve Biko was the 46th South African political prisoner known to have died in detention. In spite of the international outcry at his death in 1977, more detainees were tortured to death in the following years. This leaflet asked people in Britain to support the international campaign against police torture.

pic7901. ‘Release women political prisoners’

ANC women picketed South Africa House to demand freedom for all women political prisoners on 7 March 1979, the eve of International Women's Day. They also called for the release of Solomon Mahlangu. In the photo are former political prisoner Dulcie September and ANC Women’s Section members Ramnie Dinat and Teresa Nannan.

pic8002. Escape from Pretoria Prison

In 1979 political prisoners Tim Jenkin, Alex Moumbaris and Stephen Lee escaped from Pretoria Central Prison. This photograph shows the three with ANC representative Francis Meli at a press conference in London on 22 January 1980.

doc60. One Union’s Fight Against Apartheid

In 1964 David Kitson was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment for sabotage. In the late 1950s he worked as a draughtsman in Britain and was a member of the trade union DATA, later TASS. As soon as it heard of his arrest, the union formed the Free Dave Kitson Committee. For the next 20 years TASS campaigned for his release and helped support his family. David Kitson served his full sentence and was freed in 1984.