History of South Africa from 1948 to today

Pre 1948 history
Trade Union History
Sports History
Apartheid South Africa

June SA history

  • 13 Jun 2009. Judge Ian van der Merwe in the Bloemfontein High Court rules that semi-tame animals (like lions) may only be hunted twenty four months after being freed from their breeding cages.

12 May 2009

During training flight to Dragons Peak Park in KwaZulu-Natal, 3 members of the SAAF (South African Air Force) die following an accident in an Agusta A109 helicopter (they crashed into the Woodstock Dam in the upper Tugela area). The airmen who died were Lieutenant Simon Baloyi, Flight Sergeant Mone Zuidmeer and Captain Bongani Mdluli.

22 Sep 2008

President Thabo Mbeki hands in his resignation, singling out the fight against crime as being a big challenge remaining for South Africa.

18 Jun 2008

In a case brought to it by the Chinese Association of SA (Casa), represented by Edward Nathan Sonnenbergs, the Pretoria High Court rules that Chinese are to be considered "blacks" when it comes to receiving black economic empowerment benefits.

12 May 2008

Xenophobic attack begin in the township of Alexandria in Johannesburg, and over the following weeks spread across South Africa, leaving a large number of foreigners injured, dead or displaced.

19 Dec 2007

Jacob Zuma is elected president of the African National Congress (ANC), the Johannesburg Stock Exchange's All-Share Index falls by 1.45%.

12 Oct 2007

Nine South African National Defence Force soldiers are accidentally killed during a training exercise at Lohatla battle school in the Norther Cape Province, when control was last over an anti-aircraft gun.

9 Aug 2007

South African President Thabo Mbeki fires deputy health minister, Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge, after an unauthorised trip to Spain, at a cost of R160,000 to taxpayers. She was travelling with her son, Simon; which is allowed in terms of regulation. The axing went down like a lead balloon across the political spectrum, as Madlala-Routledge enjoyed popularity as a result of her stance against HIV/AIDS (at one point she called on called on Mbeki and other leaders to take public HIV tests).

6 Jan 2007

Judge Motata drives into the garden wall of a house in Hurlingham, belonging to Richard Baird. The Judge was was allegedly drunk. Baird took photographs and videotape material of Judge Motata, whilst the judge swore at him: "We will repair the damage, it is not a problem... But Baird should not humiliate me. No boer will undermine me, f*** him, he must not insult me, f*** him, I don't mind."

1 Dec 2006

Vernon Gibbs (38) and Tony Halls (52) get married in South Africa's first gay marriage. The couple tie the knot in the home affairs building in George, a town in the the Western Cape province of South Africa. The marriage officer was Petro Kruger, a Home Affairs Official.

20 Sep 2006

Pietermaritzburg High Court Judge Herbert Msimang, holding that the state's case against Zuma "went from one disaster to another", throws out corruption charges against former Deputy President Jacob Zuma.


Johannesburg is home ot the world's first solar-powered billboard, when Nedbank erect a billboard which supplies power to a nearby school saying "This isn't a billboard. It's a power plant".

Former deputy-President of South Africa, Jacob Zuma, is found not-guilty of raping an HIV-positive woman on 2 November 2005. The former head of South Africa's anti-AIDS campaign admitted having sex with her in the knowledge that she was HIV-positive.

Two wild white lions are born in the Umbabat Private Nature Reserve bordering the Kruger National Park, justifying the argument that the white lion gene is present in this area amongst the wild population. White lions had been extinct in the wild since 1997, the last white lion cub born in the wild is believed to have occurred in 1994. Whilte lions are only known to have occurred in the Timbavati area (which borders the Umbabat Private Nature Reserve).

3 Mar 2006

The film Tsotsi about a Johannesburg township thug, wins the Oscar for best foreign language film.

14 Jun 2005

President Thabo Mbeki relieves Deputy-President Jacob Zuma of his duties, due to corruption charges against him.


a Geographical names committee recommends that the capital's name should be changed from Pretoria to Tshwane.

23 Mar 2005

About 21,000 mineworkers from the Harmony Gold Mining Company went on strike after mediation efforts with the union over pay and working conditions failed.

21 Jul 2004

Leigh Mathews' naked body is found in a veld south of Johannesburg. In 2005 Donavan Moodley, a fellow student, is convicted of her murder and sentenced to life imprisonment.

9 May 2004

Brenda Fassie (singer) dies in hospital after spending 13 days in a coma, her post mortem says that her final dose of cocaine was the cause of death.

14 April 2004

The third multi-racial democratic elections.


African National Party


Democratic Alliance


Inkatha Freedom Party


United Democratic Movement


African Christian Democratic Party


Independent Democrats


New National Party


Freedom Front Plus


Pan Africanist Congress


United Christian Democratic Party


Minority Front


Azanian People's Organisation




7 Mar 2004

Sixty four mercenaries aboard a US-registered Boeing 727 lands at Harare Airport where they are due to pick up arms and Simon Mann, before flying to Equatorial Guinea where they planned to stage a coup.

29 Feb 2004

Charlize Theron wins the best actress Oscar for playing the role of a prostitute murderer in "Monster".


South Africa's government approves a major programme to provide anti-retroviral drugs to people suffering from AIDS.


Walter Sisulu dies aged 91 Sisulu was a key figure in the anti-apartheid struggle.

August 2003

Bulelani Ngcuka, the publib prosecutor, says that there exists a "prima facie" case of corruption against deputy-president Jacob Zuma, but that he will not be prosecuted because the directorate was "not sure if we had a winnable case".

31 July 2003

South Africa signs the Kyoto Protocol.

30 Jun 2003

The Guardian confirms that British arms manufacturer BAE Systems paid millions in secret commissions to win a contract to supply Hawk jets to South Africa.

April 2003

A Pretoria court sentences Winnie Madikizela-Mandela to 5 years in jail for a string of theft and fraud offenses. Madikizela-Mandela, who had pleaded not guilty, was convicted of abusing her position as head of the African National Congress's women's league to defraud a bank and dozens of people.

November 2002

The Mail and Guardian reveals that the mysterious "Mr. X" who is being investigated by the "Scorpions" for accepting a 500,000 rand bribe from a defense firm bidding on a contract to supply ships to the navy is none other than Deputy President Jacob Zuma, who is re-elected vice president of the African National Congress at the party's national conference the following month.

4 Sep 2002

Secretary of State Colin Powell was heckled by dozens of activists on the closing day of the World Summit in South Africa.

31 Jul 2002

South Africa signs Kyoto protocol.

9 Jul 2002

The African Union (AU) is founded in Ethiopia (Addis Ababa). Thabo Mbeki (then President of South Africa) becomes the AU's first chairman.


South Africa's Constitutional court orders the government to provide key anti-Aids drug at all public hospitals. The Government had argued that the drug was too costly.


Dr Wouter Basson is acquited by the court, dubbed "Dr Death" he ran apartheid-era germ warfare programme. Basson had faced charges of murder and conspiracy. The ANC condemns the verdict.

February 2002

Dr. Gavin Woods resigns as chairperson of SCOPA in protest over the ANC's obstruction of SCOPA's investigation into the arms deal.

December 2001

The High Court rules that pregnant women must be given Aids drugs to help prevent the transmission of the virus to their babies.

November 2001

The New National Party enters into a cooperation agreement with the ANC to form a loose coalition.


39 multi-national pharmaceutical companies bring to an end a legal battle to stop South Africa importing generic Aids drugs. The decision is seen as a victory for the world's poorest countries in their efforts to import cheaper drugs to combat the virus.

August 2001

ANC MP and SCOPA member Andrew Feinstein resigns, expressing disappointment with the way the ANC has handled the arms deal investigation.

1 Jun 2001

Nkosi Johnson, HIV/AIDS champion, dies aged 12. He is remembered especially for a speech in which he challenged President Thabo Mbeki to provide AIDS drugs - "I just wish the government can start giving AZT medicines to pregnant HIV mothers to help stop the virus being passed on to their babies. I do not want babies to die".

July 2001

The Star publishes a list of 33 cars supplied at a discount by the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company to prominent officials including Tony Yengeni and Siphiwe Nyanda, the head of the defense force.

May 2001

The Joint Investigating Team begins holding public hearings into the arms deal.

27 Apr 2001

On Freedom Day, President Thabo Mbeki speaks to Mark Shuttleworth Africa's first traveller in space via sattelite phone.

March 2001

The Sunday Times reports that Tony Yengeni, ANC chief whip and former chair of the defense committee, received a substantial discount on a Mercedes Benz from an arms deal bidder. In October, he is arrested and resigns from Parliament. In March 2003, he receives a four-year sentence for defrauding Parliament, which he appeals.

November 2000

The auditor general finds substantial irregularities in the arms deal, and Parliament's Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA) calls for an investigation to be conducted by a Joint Investigating Team (JIT) consisting of the SIU (Scorpions), the auditor general, the national director of public prosecutions, and the public protector. After weeks of political squabbling, the SIU are excluded from the team.

March 2000

the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) goes into effect. The law gives effect to the public's broad right to access information as set out in the 1996 Constitution, which requires private as well as governmental bodies to disclose information.

September 1999

The SA government announces the strategic arms procurement package—the acquisition of aircraft, helicopters, submarines, and ships at a cost of 29 billion rand. Patricia de Lille expresses concerns about corruption in the deal, which will develop into one of South Africa's biggest corruption scandals, the so-called "arms deal."

17 Jun 1999

Manto Tshabalala-Msimang is appointed as South Africa's Health Minister.

25 Jun 1999

President Thabo Mbeki announces the establishment of a special criminal investigation unit that will tackle high-profile crime, including public corruption. This unit later becomes known as the Directorate of Special Investigations, or, more popularly, the "Scorpions."

14 Jun 1999

In his victory speech, Thabo Mbeki promises that the ANC will govern "without arrogance and with a deep sense of responsibility".

2 Jun 1999

The second multi-racial democratic elections.


New National Party


Democratic Party


African National Party


Inkatha Freedom Party


Freedom Front


Pan Africanist Congress of Azania


African Christian Democratic Party


United Democratic Movement


United Christian Democratic Party


Federal Alliance


Minority Front


Afrikaner Eenheidsbeweging


Azanian People's Organisation




16 Dec 1998

The 160th anniversary of the Battle of Blood River. Mangosutho Buthelezi apologizes to Afrikaners for the murder of Piet Retief and their subsequent suffering, but also highlights the suffering of the Zulu under Afrikaners during apartheid, and calls for the day to be considered a new covenant which binds South Africans to the shared commitment of building a new country.

October 1998

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission releases its final report, a 3,500-page document which brands the apartheid-era government the primary perpetrator of gross human rights violations, but also holds the ANC and other anti-apartheid activists, including Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and her Mandela United Football Club, accountable for violations.


Nelson Mandela marries Graça Machel, the widow of Mozambique's founding president, Samora Machel.

22 Dec 1997

A British Airways flight from Johannesburg is delayed for 24 hours, while the plane was fumigated after a mouse was spotted on board.

December 1997

Nelson Mandela resigns as President and Thabo Mbeki is named his successor.

16 May 1997

Former President FW De Klerk testifies before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Spring 1996

Health Minister Nkosazana Zuma is accused of misleading Parliament about the awarding of a contract to produce an AIDS-awareness musical, Sarafina 2. An inspector general finds that bidding procedures were violated.

September 1996

Eugene de Kock, commander of the secret Vlakplaas unit of the security police during the apartheid government era, is convicted of six murders and 83 other crimes. Before he is sentenced, de Kock testifies that other senior members of the former government, including former presidents P.W. Botha and de Klerk and several army generals and police officials, were involved in dirty tricks against the anti-apartheid movement.

July 1996

President Nelson Mandela fires Bantu Holomisa, deputy minister for environment and tourism, after he accuses Mandela, Deputy President Thabo Mbeki, and other ANC officials of accepting money from Sol Kerzner, a businessman under investigation for bribery. Mandela admits a month later that the ANC accepted a campaign donation from Kerzner but denies any wrongdoing.

8 May 1996

The new constitution is adopted, which goes into effect in February 1997.

March 1996

The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC), a watchdog organization that derives its powers from the Constitution, is officially launched.

July 1995

President Mandela signs a law creating the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate human rights violations committed from March 1960 to May 1994. The commission is chaired by Archbishop Desmond Tutu and begins holding public hearings in April 1996, completes most of its fact-finding work by late July 1998, and releases a final report three months later.

June 1995

The Constitutional Court declares the death penalty unconstitutional

10 May 1994

After the first multi-racial democratic elections, South African president Nelson Mandela is sworn in to office.

27 April 1994

The first multi-racial democratic elections.


National Party


Democratic Party


African National Party


Inkatha Freedom Party


Freedom Front


Pan Africanist Congress of Azania


African Christian Democratic Party




April 1994

The 10 ethnically determined "homelands" of the apartheid era are incorporated into nine new provincial administrative regions.

28 Oct 1993

Communist China starts trading with South Africa, which it had cut off since July 1960.

15 Oct 1993

FW de Klerk and Nelson Mandela share the Nobel Peace prize for ending apartheid and laying the foundation for a multi-racial democracy in South Africa.

25 Aug 1993

A young American, Amy Biehl, is stoned and stabbed to death in Gugulethu after dropping off some friends.

April 1993

South African Communist Party leader Chris Hani is assassinated outside his home. In October 1993, Polish immigrant Januzs Walus and former Conservative Party MP Clive Derby-Lewis are found guilty of the murder and are sentenced to death, later commuted to life imprisonment.

9 Jul 1991

After 30 years of being banned, South Africa is admitted back into the Olympic movement.


The beginning of multi-party talks.

25 May 1991

After sixteen years of battling Unita and South African soldiers, Cuban soldiers withdraw from Angola.

15 Oct 1990

President F. W. de Klerk's government scraps South Africa's Separate Amenities Act, which had barred blacks from public facilities.

June 1990

President F. W. de Klerk's government repeals the Groups Areas Act, (which segregated residential neighborhoods); the Land Act, (which restricted blacks' rights to purchase land); and the Population Registration Act, (which classified the population by race).


The musician, Miriam Makeba, returns to South Africa after spending 30 years in exile.

21 March 1990

South Africa relinquishes control of South West Africa/Namibia, and it officially became an independent state on 21 March 1990.

11 Feb 1990

President F. W. de Klerk releases Nelson Mandela from prison. After 27 years in prison, Mandela makes his first public speech in decades from the balcony of the Cape Town City Hall.


Organisation of Lesbian and Gay Activists founded.

February 1990

President F. W. de Klerk lifts a decades-long ban on several dozen anti-apartheid organizations, including the African National Congress (ANC), the Pan-African Congress (PAC), and the South African Communist Party, and releases anti-apartheid activists from prison.

20 Sep 1989

F. W. de Klerk is sworn in as South Africa's President.

13 February 1989

PW Botha resigns after suffering a stroke and is succeeded later that year by FW de Klerk.


The National Party wins a majority of the seats in the 1989 South African General Election (South Africa's last race-based election).


National Party


Democratic Party


Conservative Party




Jul 1988

The apartheid government in South Africa agrees to elections in Namibia in return for the withdrawal of Cuban soldiers from Angola.

22 Mar 1988

Battle of Cuito Canavale in Angola.


The National Party wins a majority of the seats in the 1987 South African General Election.


National Party


Progressive Federal Party


Conservative Party


Independent Movement


New Republic Party





Former Mozambican President Samora Machel dies in a plane crash on South African soil (in February 2006 South African President Mbeki called for a reopening of the apartheid era inquest into the crash).

c. 26 June 1986

After being lured to their deaths by police Constable Joe Mamasela (posing as an MK agent) the 'Mamelodi 10' (a.k.a. the 'Nietverdiend 10') are killed. Mamasela had promised to take them to Botswana for military training. Instead Mamasela drove them (in a minibus) to Nietverdiend, where security officers ordered the men at gunpoint to get out of the minibus, and Commandant Dave Trippet injected them with a chemical. Now unconscious, they were bundled back into the minibus and driven to Bophuthatswana by Special Forces operative Diederick Jacobus Vorster. A limpet mine and an AK47 were placed into the minibus, an accident staged and the minibus set alight. The bodies were burnt so severely that identification was difficult, and there is some confusion about who was killed in this incident. Their bodies buried in a field in Winterveld, near Pretoria.

What happened to the Mamelodi 10 was outlined when Jack Cronje, Jaques Hechter, Paul van Vuuren, Wouter Mentz and Roelf Venter testified before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The officers received amnesty, but Mamasela, who admitted to his role in the murders, never applied for amnesty. He was declared a section 204 witness, which means that he received indemnity from prosecution as long as he was a satisfactory witness. Mr Vorster testified that, following these operations, he had requested not to be deployed on such missions, both because of security concerns and because he did not believe that such operations were the proper function of a soldier.

3 Mar 1986

The Gugulethu Seven are murdered.

6 Jan 1986

Impala Platinum fires 20,000 black mine workers.

20 Oct 1985

Commonwealth Heads of State adopt "the Commonwealth Accord on Southern Africa":

"… we have as an earnest of our opposition to apartheid reached accord on a programme of common action as follows:

i) we declare the Commonwealth's support for the strictest enforcement of the mandatory arms embargo against South Africa, in accordance with United Nations Security Council Resolutions 418 and 558 and commit ourselves to prosecute violators to the fullest extent of the law;

ii) we reaffirm the Gleneagles Declaration of 1977, which called upon Commonwealth members to take every practical step to discourage sporting contacts with South Africa;

iii) we agree upon, and commend to other governments, the adoption of the following further economic measures against South Africa, which have already been adopted by a number of member countries:

  1. a ban on all new government loans to the Government of South Africa and its agencies;

  2. a readiness to take unilaterally what action may be possible to preclude the import of krugerrands;

  3. no Government funding for trade missions to South Africa or for participation in exhibitions and trade fairs in South Africa;

  4. a ban on the sale and export of computer equipment capable of use by South African military forces, police or security forces;

  5. a ban on new contracts for the sale and export of nuclear goods, materials and technology to South Africa;

  6. a ban on the sale and export of oil to South Africa;

  7. a strict and rigorously controlled embargo on imports of arms, ammunition, military vehicles and paramilitary equipment from South Africa;

  8. an embargo on all military co-operation with South Africa; and

  9. discouragement of all cultural and scientific events except where these contribute towards the ending of apartheid or have no possible role in promoting it."

10 Sep 1985

The European Community, Portugal and Spain adopts the following measures: against South Africa:

  • "a strictly monitored embargo on the export to South Africa of weapons and para-military equipment;

  • a strictly monitored embargo on the import from South Africa of weapons and para-military equipment;

  • rejection of all co-operation in the military field;

  • the recalling of military attaches from the Republic of South Africa and the refusal to accredit military attaches of the Republic of South Africa;

  • discouragement of cultural and scientific agreements except where these will contribute to the elimination of apartheid or will not support that system;

  • a freeze on official contacts and international agreements in the field of sports and security;

  • the elimination of oil exports to the Republic of South Africa;

  • the elimination of exports of sensitive equipment intended for the South African Army and Police; and

  • a ban on all new co-operation in the nuclear field."

26 Jul 1985

Following the State of Emergency declared in South Africa, UN Security Council resolution 569:

"6. Urges States Members of the Organization to adopt measures against the Republic of South Africa, such as the following:

  1. Suspension of all new investment in the Republic of South Africa;

  2. Prohibition of the sale of krugerrands and all other coins minted in South Africa;

  3. Restrictions in the field of sports and cultural relations;

  4. Suspension of guaranteed export loans;

  5. Prohibition of all new contracts in the nuclear field;

  6. Prohibition of all sales of computer equipment that may be used by the South African army and police;

"7. Commends those States which have already adopted voluntary measures against the Pretoria Government and urges them to adopt new provisions, and invites those which have not yet done so to follow their example."

27 Jun 1985

In line with Denmark, Sweden and Norway's decision to end their air agreements of 28 Mar 1958 with South Africa, SAS (Scandinavian Airlines System) must end flights to South Africa within half a year.

19 Jun 1985

UN Security Council resolution 566:

"14. Urges Member States of the United Nations that have not done so to consider in the meantime taking appropriate voluntary measures against South Africa, which could include:

  1. Stopping of new investments and application of disincentives to this end;

  2. Re-examination of maritime and aerial relations with South Africa;

  3. The prohibition of the sale of krugerrands and all other coins minted in South Africa;

  4. Restrictions in the field of sports and cultural relations."

5 Jun 1985

The Australian Government announces that it will boycott any company with a majority South African ownership.


South African armed forces attacked Botswana.

Lesbian and Gays Against Oppression (Lago) founded.

13 Dec 1984

The UN General Assembley adopts resolution 39/72 G :

"5. Urges the Security Council to consider without delay the adoption of effective mandatory sanctions against South Africa;

"6. Further urges the Security Council to take steps for the strict implementation of the mandatory arms embargo instituted by it in resolution 418 (1977) and, within this context, to secure an end to military and nuclear co-operation with South Africa and the import of military equipment or supplies from South Africa;

"7. Appeals to all States that have not yet done so, pending mandatory sanctions by the Security Council, to consider national legislative or other appropriate measures to increase the pressure on the apartheid regime of South Africa, such as:

  1. Cessation of further investments in, and financial loans to, South Africa;

  2. An end to all promotion of trade with South Africa;

  3. Cessation of all forms of military, police or intelligence co-operation with the authorities of South Africa;

  4. An end to nuclear collaboration with South Africa;


"9. Appeals to all Governments and organizations to take appropriate action for the cessation of all academic, cultural, scientific and sports relations that would support the apartheid regime of South Africa as well as relations with individuals, institutions and other bodies endorsing or based on apartheid and also appeals for further strengthening of contacts with those opposed to apartheid."


20 Aug 1983

The United Democratic Front's (UDF) national launch in Mitchell's Plain at Rocklands Civic Centre, with Frank Chikane being the first major speaker at the event.

Jul 1983

The Cape Province UDF is formed.

Jun 1983

The Transvaal UDF is formed.

May 1983

The Natal UDF is formed.


White South Africans vote "yes" for a tricameral parliament that included coloured and indians, but excluded the black majority.

19 Dec 1982

Koeberg Nuclear power station is bombed by operatives of the ANC's armed wing (Umkhonto we Sizwe) causing extensive damage.

5 February 1982

Dr Neil Aggett became the 45th South African to die in police detention (and the first white person to die in police detention) under apartheid. Dr Aggett was reported by police to have been found hanged at Johannesburg's notorius John Vorster Squre. On the 4th February 1982 Aggett had written an affidavit claiming he had been tortured, assaulted, deprived of sleep and beaten on various occassions since his arrest. Aggett had joined the trade union movement in the sixties and fought for the rights of black workers to be placed with company-supported medical aid schemes and enjoy other democratic rights.


The National Party wins a majority of the seats in the 1981 South African General Election.


National Party


Progressive Federal Party


New Republic Party




2 May 1980

The South African government bans Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in Wall" (Part II), being blamed for inciting riots among pupils. Black children who boycotted schools because of inferior education standards had adopted the song as their anthem (the song includes children chanting the chorus, “We don't need no education”).


South African Airways commences flights to Taipei, with South Africa becoming one of the few countries in the world to recognise the Republic of China government of Taiwan.

24 Jan 1979

The UN General Assembley adopts resolution 33/183 urges to stop financial loans to South Africa.


Following the "Information Scandal", BJ Vorster quits.

Sun City opens.


BJ Vorster becomes state president and PW Botha is prime minister.

UN resolution 435 is passed, stipulating the settlement of the Namibian situation.

Margaret Gardiner, a South African, is crowned Miss Universe.

4 Nov 1977

With the background of a dramatic military build-up in South Africa, a mandatory arms embargo against South Africa is adopted by the UN Security Council (as well as an oil embargo), under UN Security Council Resolution 418:

"1. Determines, having regard to the policies and acts of the South African Government, that the acquisition by South Africa of arms and related materiel constitutes a threat to the maintenance of international peace and security;

"2. Decides that all States shall cease forthwith any provision to South Africa of arms and related materiel of all types, including the sale or transfer of weapons and ammunition, military vehicles and equipment, para-military police equipment, and spare parts for the aforementioned, and shall cease as well the provision of all types of equipment and supplies and grants of licensing arrangements for the manufacture or maintenance of the aforementioned;

"3. Calls upon all States to review, having regard to the objectives of the present resolution, all existing contractual arrangements with and licences granted to South Africa relating to the manufacture and maintenance of arms, ammunition of all types and military equipment and vehicles, with a view to terminating them;

"4. Further decides that all States shall refrain from any co-operation with South Africa in the manufacture and development of nuclear weapons;

"5. Calls upon all States, including States non-members of the United Nations, to act strictly in accordance with the provisions of the present resolution; …"

12 Sept 1977

South African black student leader Steve Biko is murdered in police custody in Pretoria. His hearse is pulled by oxen to his burial (attended by 20 000 people) on the 17th September 1977 in King Williams Town.


Australia's labour government decides to stop Qantas flights to South Africa (SAA flights to Australia are allowed to continue).

Steve Biko is murdered in police custody in Pretoria aqaqin September 1977. His hearse is pulled by oxen to his burial (attended by 20 000 people) on the 17th September 1977 in King Williams Town.

Winnie Mandela is banished to Brandfort, in the Free State.

17 organisation are banned in South Africa

The last Union-Castle mailship sets sail.


The National Party wins a majority of the seats in the 1977 South African General Election.


National Party


Progressive Federal Party


New Republic Party


South African Party




9 Nov 1976

Originating with Sweden, the UN General Assembley adopts resolution 3l/6K which requests the UN Security Council "to consider steps to achieve the cessation of further foreign investments in South Africa."


Transkei is declared independent.

e'Lollipop goes on circuit

16 June 1976

On Wednesday, 16th June 1976, Soweto pupils revolt against the apartheid education system, where they were forced to be taught in Afrikaans (as their medium of instruction). The iconic image of the riot is the photo of 13-year-old Hector Pieterson being carried away after he was shot by police (taken by Sam Nzima). Children protesing with banners were attacked by police firing teargas. The children replied by throwing stones and the police replied with shots.

13 June 1976

At a meeting at Orlando DOCC to address the Phuti class boycott, it was decided to stand up to the "boers" and stage a school boycott on the 16th June 1976.

Jan 1976

The first official television broadcast.


The Rosenkowitz sextuplets are born in Cape Town

Anneline Kriel, a South African, is crowned Miss World.

The Kreepy Kraully is invented


The National Party wins a majority of the seats in the 1974 South African General Election.


United Party


National Party


Progressive Party





The Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging (AWB) is founded.


It is announced by the SPCA in Cape Town that, according to a government ruling, it is allowed to accept only the pets of white owners at its boarding facilities!


In the first mixed-race boxing match in apartheid South Africa, Bob Foster beats Pierre Fourie.


Johannesburg's Hillbrow Tower is completed.

The Keg Leage (the name was later changed to the Castle League) is founded with 13 teams (including Bloemfontein Celtics, Kaizer Chiefs, Moroka Swallows, Orlando Pirates and Witbank Black Aces).

An American tennis player, Arthur Ashe, is refused a visa to visit South Africa.

3 Mar 1971

Winnie Mandela sentenced to 1 year in jail in South Africa

3 Mar 1971

South African Broadcasting Corp lifts its ban on the Beatles

23 Jul 1970

With the USA, France and the UK abstaining, UN Security Council Resolution 232, a non-binding resolution, "Calls upon all States to strengthen the arms embargo:

  1. By implementing fully the arms embargo against South Africa unconditionally and without reservations whatsoever;

  2. By withholding the supply of all vehicles and equipments for use of the armed forces and paramilitary organizations of South Africa;

  3. By ceasing the supply of spare parts for all vehicles and military equipment used by the armed forces and paramilitary organizations of South Africa;

  4. By revoking all licenses and military patents granted to the South African Government or to South African companies for the manufacture of arms and ammunition, aircraft and naval craft or other military vehicles and by refraining from further granting such licences and patents;

  5. By prohibiting investment in, or technical assistance for, the manufacture of arms and ammunition, aircraft, naval craft, or other military vehicles;

  6. By ceasing provision of military training for members of the South African armed forces and all other forms of military co-operation with South Africa;

  7. By undertaking the appropriate action to give effect to the above measures."

22 April 1970

The National Party, led by John Vorster, wins a majority of the seats in the 1970 South African General Election.


United Party


National Party


Progressive Party





An earthquake destroys part of Tulbagh, in the Cape.

For once prime minister BJ Vorster shows some sense - he refuses to be drawn into a row over the miniskirt.

Anti-apartheid demonstrators, led by Peter Hain, disrupt the Springbok's tour of Britain.

10 Dec 1968

Clement Vavasor Durell , an English mathematician, dies in South Africa.


Playing for Worcestershire, the coloured cricketer Basil D'Oliviera is refused entry to South Africa.


On the 24th December 1967 a medical team headed by Chris Barnard (a 42 year-old Professor) performs the world's first heart transplant at Groote Schuur hospital. The patient is Louis Washkansky - Washkansky died 18 days after the operation.

The first Wimpy opens in South Africa.

The first Krugerrands are minted and issued.

Raymond Ackerman purchases the first stores which are to become the Pick'n Pay group.


District Six is declared a white area.

BJ Vorster succeeds Hendrik Verwoerd.

On the 6th September 1966, Hendrik Verwoerd is stabbed to death by a messenger, Dimitri Tsafendas, in parliament. Tsafendas forced his way into the gallery, where he was not allowed, and stabbed Verwoerd 4 times. Verwoerd was buried in Pretoria.


The National Party, led by Hendrik Verwoerd, wins a majority of the seats in the 1966 South African General Election.


United Party


National Party


Progressive Party




22 August 1965

Karen Muir, then 12 years old, breaks the world record in the 110-yards backstroke; becoming the youngest world-record holder in any sport. Karen was a Std V student at Diamantveld Laërskool, Kimberley. Her comment "It has been a bit too much and I still cannot really believe that I am the holder of the world record. It's like some thing out of a fairy tale. Everyone has been very kind and wonderful but I am glad that the fuss is finished".

26 Dec 1964

Max Conrad (an American) establishes a world non-stop-flight record with his 7,878 mile flight from Cape Town to Florida (St Petersburg).

Oct 1964

With the Labour Party coming into power, the UK announces an arms embargo against South Africa.

14 June 1964

Eight Rivonia trialists (including Nelson Mandela) are sentenced to life imprisonment for treason and sabotage.

4 Dec 1963

UN Security Council Resolution 182 calls on all countries "to cease forthwith the sale and shipment of equipment and materials for the manufacture and maintenance of arms and ammunition in South Africa."

7 Aug 1963

UN Security Council Resolution 181 calls on all countries to " cease forthwith the sale and shipment of arms, ammunition of all types and military vehicles to South Africa."

Aug 1963

Other than existing contracts which are allowed to continue, the USA announces a total arms embargo on SA.


All of musician Miriam Makeba's records are banned in South Africa, after an impassioned testimony before the United Nations Committee Against Apartheid.

The OAU (Oranisation of African Unity) is formed.

The exiled leadership of the PAC (Pan African Congress) declares the beginning of a revoluationary war spearheaded by its armed wing, Poqo.

6 Nov 1962

The United Nations General Assembly adopts resolution 1761 condemning South Africa's racist apartheid policies and calling on all its members to end economic and military relations with
South Africa, in particular:

  • closing their ports to ships sailing under a South African flag, and not allowing South African planes to fly over their land

  • breaking off diplomatic ties with South Africa

  • not importing South African good, and not exporting to South African (in particular not exporting arms and ammunition)

Additionally, a Special Committee against Apartheid is formed under the resolution.


November 1962: Nelson Mandela is sentenced to 5 years imprisonment for illegally leaving the country and incitement to strike. He had been on the run for 17 months before he was captured, resulting in him being known as 'the Black Pimpernel'. Years later a retired agent was quoted in the New York Times as saying that the CIA had tipped off the South African security police about Nelson Mandela's whereabouts.

16 Jun 1962

Arnold Vosloo, later to become an actor, is born.

Dec 1961

Albert Luthuli becomes Africa's first winner of the Nobel peace prize.


Umkhonto weSizwe is founded, with Nelson Mandela heading it.

Gary Player becomes the first non-American citizen to win the US Masters

31 May 1961

South Africa becoms a republic.

15 Mar 1961

South Africa withdraws from the Commonwealth.


The National Party, led by Hendrik Verwoerd, wins a majority of the seats in the 1961 South African General Election.


United Party


National Party


National Union Party


Progressive Party





3 February 1960: Britain's MacMillan visits parliament in Cape Town and delivers his 'Winds of Change' address.

"The wind of change is blowing through this continent. Whether we like it or not, this growth of national consciousness is a political fact....As a fellow member of the Commonwealth it is our earnest desire to give South Africa our support and encouragement, but I hope you won't mind my saying frankly that there are some aspects of your policies which make it impossible for us to do this without being false to our own deep convictions about the political destinies of free men to which in our own territories we are trying to give effect."

Click here to read Hendrik Verwoerd's response to the 'Winds of Change' adress.

On the 9th April 1960, 3 weeks after the Sharpeville massacre, David Pratt (a wealthy farmer) shot Prime Minister Hendrik Verwoerd while he was opening the Rand Show in Johannesburg. Verwoerd had just finished a boring speech, when Pratt stepped forward and shot him at point-blank range. Verwoerd survived the assasination attempt, and Pratt hanged himself in a Bloemfontein mental institution.

The Sharpeville massacre on the 21st March 1960. Police opened fire on people protesting (outside a police station in Sharpeville in the Vaal Triangle) against the pass laws, resulting in 69 people being killed and 180 wounded. Baragwanath hospital had been reduced to a war zone. Baragwanath housed 143 survivors - men, women and children - under police guard. Surgeons are shocked by the wounds - normally only seen in battle - multiple gunshot wounds, bones powdered by heavy callibre bullets. Many wounds were inflicted from the victims' backs. Of the 143 admitted; there were 110 men, 29 women and 4 children. Three of those admitted to the hospital died. The bodies of those who died were brought by truck to a mass funeral.

Shortly afterwards the ANC and PAC are banned

The last appearance (until 1992) of South Africa at the olympics.

Geof Griffin, then 21, becomes the first South African to take a hat trick in test cricket. Griffin is no-balled 8 times for throwing practically ending his test career.


The PAC is formed in South Africa by Robert Sobukwe, after a schism in the ANC.

June 1959; violence in Cato Manor outside Durban sparked by a clampdown on the liquor trade and forced removals to KwaMashu.

Gary Player won the British Open for the first time.

August 1958

Hendrik Verwoerd becomes South Africa's Prime Minister.


The National Party, led by Hendrik Frensch Verwoerd, wins a majority of the seats in the 1958 South African General Election.


United Party


National Party





On February the 24th 1957 Hugh Tayfield takes 9/113 in a single innings against England at the Wanderers.

On the 5th January 1957 Russell Endean became the first cricketer to be given out "handled ball" in a test against England.

9 August 1956

20 000 women marched down Church Street in Pretoria, towards the Union Buildings in protest against the apartheid government's oppressive laws (including pass laws for women). The march was organised by Helen Joseph, a human and civil rights campaigner, treason trialist and a banned person (Joseph died in 1992). The women requested an interview with Prime Minister, JG Strijdom. Strijdom wasn't there and the women stood in silence for 30 minutes and then sang a Zulu song: "Wathint' abafazi, wathint' imbokodo", meaning "You have struck a woman, you have struck a rock".


The coloured people lose their parliamentary vote.


The Freedom Charter is adopted at the Congress of the People in Kliptown (Johannesburg), claiming ownership of the land for all the people of South Africa.


The Reservation of Separate Amenities Act No 49 of 1953

Bantu Education Act of 1953, results in black and white children being educated seperately.


The National Party, led by DF Malan, wins a majority of the seats in the 1953 South African General Election.


United Party


Herenigde Nasionale Party


Labour Party




2 May 1952

The world's first regular commercial passenger carrying jet flies from London to Johannesburg. The plane is a de Havilland Comet. The flight is for British Overseas Airways Corporation.

De Havilland's Comet was a 4-engined plane, carrying up to 44 passengers. The aircraft was designated G-ALYP, and would on Jan. 10, 1954 crash into the Mediterranean Sea off the Italian island of Elba , killing everyone on board.


Nelson Mandela and Oliver Tambo set up South Africa's first black law firm.


Native Laws Amendment Act No 54 of 1952

The Abolition of Passes Act No 67 of 1952


the Prevention of Illegal Squatting Act No 52 of 1951

the Bantu Authorities Act No 68 of 1951


Population Registration Act No 30 of 1950 (forcing people to be registered according to their colour)

the Group Areas Act No 41 of 1950 (people of different colours are not allowed to live amongst each other)

Suppression of Communism Act No 44 of 1950 (banning the South African Communist Party)

The Immorality prohibits people of different colour from having sexual intercourse

Coloureds, who previously had the vote, are removed from the electoral role.

Drum magazine is founded by Robert Crisp and Jim Bailey.

1 May 1950

Springbok radio was launched, broadcasting in english and afrikaans.


Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act No 55 of 1949

26 May 1948

The National Party wins the most seats in the 1948 South African General Election on its policy of racial segregation (later to become known by the afrikaans word Apartheid) and comes to power. DF Malan becomes Prime Minister.


United Party


Herenigde Nasionale Party


Afrikaners Party


Labour Party







South African History Online