1960s

60s01. Programme of the Anti-Apartheid Committee

On 21 March 1960 South African police opened fire on a crowd protesting against the Pass Laws at Sharpeville in the southern Transvaal. Sixty-nine people died and at least 180 were injured. The British Boycott Movement renamed itself the Anti-Apartheid Committee and its draft programme proposed a ‘Shun Verwoerd’s South Africa’ campaign that took the radical step of moving from an individual boycott of South African goods to calling for UN economic sanctions and the total isolation of South Africa.

60s02. Emergency in South Africa

After the Sharpeville massacre on 21 March 1960 the apartheid government banned the African National Congress and Pan Africanist Congress and detained hundreds of anti-apartheid activists. This leaflet asked people in Britain to protest and boycott South African goods.

pic6014. Sharpeville massacre protest, 22 March 1960

In the week following the Sharpeville massacre, there were daily protests outside the South African High Commission in London. Police tried to break up the protests. In this photo a student is manhandled into a police car during a demonstration the day after the massacre.

pic6015. Sharpeville massacre protest, 22 March 1960

In the week following the Sharpeville massacre, there were daily protests outside the South African High Commission in London. London printworkers, seen here in Charing Cross Road with their banner proclaiming ‘South Africa Stinks’,  joined the demonstrations the day after the massacre.

 

pic6013. Sharpeville massacre protest, 24 March 1960

In the week following the Sharpeville massacre, there were daily protests outside the South African High Commission in London. In this photo a woman is manhandled by police officers trying to clear the area of protestors.

pic6012. Sharpeville massacre protest, 25 March 1960

In the week following the Sharpeville massacre, there were daily protests outside the South African High Commission in London. In this photo a policeman tries to snatch a blood-smeared photograph of the massacre from the hands of a protestor.

pic6005. Sharpeville massacre protest, 27 March 1960

Thousands of people marched through central London on 27 March 1960 to protest against the massacre of 69 unarmed South Africans at Sharpeville on 21 March. The march was organised by the Boycott Movement, together with the Movement for Colonial Freedom and the Committee of African Organisations. It was followed by a rally in Trafalgar Square, organised by the Labour Party. In the days following the shootings, there were scuffles with police outside South Africa House as crowds gathered to protest.

pic6006. Sharpeville massacre protest, 27 March 1960

Twenty thousand people gathered in Trafalgar Square to protest against the massacre of 69 unarmed demonstrators at Sharpeville on 21 March. The rally was organised by the Labour Party. Speakers included African National Congress leader, Tennyson Makiwane, Labour’s Colonial Affairs spokesperson James Callaghan and Robert Willis from the TUC General Council. In the days following the massacre crowds gathered spontaneously outside South Africa House.