Political prisoners

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.

pic8101. ‘Release Oscar Mpetha!’

British trade unionists protested outside South Africa House on the first day of the trial of veteran South African trade unionist Oscar Mpetha on 3 March 1981. After a long trial Mpetha was sentenced to five years imprisonment. He was released in 1989 soon after his 80th birthday. In the picture is Bill Rampton from the train drivers union ASLEF, with the banner of the committee set up by the draughtsmen’s trade union AUEW (TASS) to support its former member, political prisoner David Kitson.

Pic8102. ‘Release Oscar Mpetha!’

British trade unionists protested outside South Africa House in London on the first day of the trial of veteran South African trade unionist Oscar Mpetha on 3 March 1981. After a long trial Mpetha was sentenced to five years imprisonment. He was released in 1989 soon after his 80th birthday. Left to right: General Secretaries Jack Boddy from the Agricultural Workers Union, Alan Sapper from the film technicians union ACTT and Stan Pemberton, President of the Transport and General Workers Union.

pic8111. Political prisoners vigil

Southern Africa the Imprisoned Society (SATIS) marked the UN Day of Solidarity with Political Prisoners on 11 October 1981 with a vigil on the steps of St Martin’s in the Fields. The vigil protested at the repression of the South African trade union movement and called for the release of veteran trade unionist Oscar Mpetha.

pic8226. ‘Free Steven Kitson’

In January 1982 Steven Kitson was detained by the South African security police when he travelled to South Africa to visit his father David Kitson in prison in Pretoria. David Kitson was serving a 20-year sentence for sabotage. Steven’s mother Norma Kitson and sister Amandla protested outside the South African Embassy in London demanding his release. Steven was threatened by the security police and eventually freed.

pic8209. Neil Aggett protest

Students from King’s College, London blocked the entrance to the government-owned South African Airways at Oxford Circus on 10 February 1982 in protest against the death in detention of South African trade unionist Neil Aggett.

pic8208. Picket for trade union detainees

British trade unionists picketed South Africa House on May 11 1982 calling for the release of three leaders of the South African Agricultural Workers Union detained without trial. Left to right: Roger Ward from the draughtsmen’s union TASS, Muriel Turner from the clerical union ASTMS and ASTMS General Secretary, Clive Jenkins.