Political prisoners

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.

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.

apd26. You Have Struck a Rock

Women played a big role in the liberation struggles in Namibia and Zimbabwe, as well as in South Africa. This pamphlet tells the stories of Southern African women who were imprisoned and banned because they fought back against apartheid and racism. It was published by the International Defence and Aid Fund (IDAF) and distributed by the Anti-Apartheid Movement.

pri23. Free Oscar Mpetha

Oscar Mpetha was a South African trade union leader and founder member of SACTU (South African Congress of Trade Unions). In 1980 he was arrested after taking part in protests in Nyanga, Cape town, in which two people were killed. This leaflet asked AAM supporters to picket South Africa House on the opening day of his trial. He was sentenced to five years imprisonment and eventually released in 1989 soon after his 80th birthday.