Giving R000's away in Travel Vouchers on House Sales

Apartheid South Africa

History of South Africa

Apartheid is an afrikaans word meaning "seperateness" - it was a legal system whereby people were classified into racial groups - White, Black, Indian and Coloured; and seperate geographic areas were demarcated for each racial group. Apartheid laws were part of South Africa's legal framework from 1948 to 1994.

Apartheid is (aptly)
pronounced "apart-hate"

Apartheid movies

Catch a Fire

Starring Tim Robbins, playing Nic Vos, a Africaner colonel in South Africa's brutal Special Branch struggling to maintain the status quo during apartheid's final decade.

"Catch a Fire" is an action-political thriller with the look of a documentary, telling the true story of Patrick Chamusso, an apolitical family man who joined the African National Congress military wing after being repeatedly, and falsely, arrested and tortured. After training with the ANC in exile in Mozambique, Chamusso returned to South Africa to bomb the government-owned oil refinery where he worked. Nabbed after an extensive manhunt led, in the film, by Vos, he was sentenced to 24 years on Robben Island. Chamusso was released 10 years later when apartheid fell, a national hero whose message of forgiveness and reconciliation permeates the film. "Catch a Fire" is named after Bob Marley's song of liberation.


History of Apartheid

PW Botha
31 Oct 2006

PW Botha & Nelson MandelaPW (Pieter Willem) Botha dies (aged 90) of natural causes around 8pm at his lagoon-side home "Die Anker", near Wildernes in the Western Cape. He leaves behind his second wife Barbara, his daughters Elanza Maritz and Rozannee and his son Pieter. In a statement, the ANC wished Botha's family "strength and comfort at this difficult time".

Derek Luke
Oct 2006

"I just exploded. I just went off on him, because he again started to tell me his side of the story. I caught on fire. When I calmed down, the others were just staring at me and I almost started crying. I said, 'I'm sorry -- I know we're making a movie here, but this is my home. This is Africa. I felt a great responsibility to tell the story in truth. I think what was really hurting was the fact that I was totally absent of Apartheid and ignorant of its existence. And during Apartheid, I don't even know what I was doing. Maybe thinking about going to Magic Mountain for a ride, or something." Derek Luke speaking about the filming of the apartheid movie "Catch a Fire".


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


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

June 1999

"I will never ask for amnesty. Not now, not tomorrow, not after tomorrow," PW Botha after winning an appeal against the conviction for failing to heed the subpoena to appear before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

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 human rights violations.


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

Pik Botha
14 Oct 1997

"In August 1985 President PW Botha had delivered what has become known as his Rubicon Speech in Durban. The world had been waiting for good news, important announcements on dismantling apartheid and releasing Mr Nelson Mandela. I myself drafted that part of the speech in which the phrase "today we have crossed the Rubicon" appeared. President Botha, however, retained the sentence but removed what had preceded it, namely the release of Nelson Mandela and the government's intention to dismantle apartheid. The effect of the speech on the world, and on many South Africans, was that of a bucket of iced water in the face."

16 May 1997

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

Sep 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.

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.


The Khulumani Support Group is formed by survivors and families of victims of the political conflict of South Africa's apartheid past. It was set up in response to the pending Truth and Reconciliation Commission by victims who felt the Commission should be used to speak out* about the past to ensure that such violations never occur again.

*(Khulumani means "Speaking out" in isiZulu)

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.


South Africa's commonwealth status is restored (although it remains a Republic).

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.

31 Dec 1993

The Heidelberg Tavern in Observatory is attacked, with 4 people being killed. Ballistic tests indicate that the same weapons were used as in the St James Church massacre.

25 Jul 1993

APLA attacks the St James Church in Kenilworth with grenades and AK47s, killing 11 members of the congregation (including 4 Russians). A single member of the congregation, Charl van Wyk, returns fire with his .38 Special and wounds one of the attackers, resulting in them fleeing.

28 Oct 1993

Communist China resumes trading with South Africa (cut off since 1960).

8 Oct 1993

The United Nations General Assembly lifts economic sanctions against South Africa.

25 Aug 1993

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

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.


Agreement on an interim constitution.

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.

March 1992

The white citizens of South Africa vote in a referendum for government to negotiate a new constitution with the ANC and other groups.


The beginning of multi-party talks.

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).

21 May 1990

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


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

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.

2 Feb 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.

2 Sep 1989

Purple rain memorial Purple rain memorial

Police stopped protestors, who were marching to parliament, with teargas, batons and a new weapon - a cannon shooting out purples dye (to make it easier to identify and arrest the protestors). Philip Ivey, a 25-year-old conscientious objector and treasurer of the End Conscription Campaign, climbed onto the armoured vehicle and pointed the cannon’s purple jet on the police. Purple dye stained the surrounding buildings, including the whitewashed walls of the historic Old Townhouse on Greenmarket Square and the National Party headquarters. Ivey said that the climbing on the armoured vehicle was a spur of the moment decision and he was scared he would be shot. The following day graffiti around Cape Town proclaimed "The purple shall govern". Eleven days later, some 30,000 people marched through Cape Town city without police intervening.

14 Aug 1989

At a caucus meeting Botha was asked to resign and FW de Klerk became acting state president the next day.


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




13 Feb 1989

PW Botha resigns after suffering a stroke and is succeeded later that year by Frederik Willem (FW) de Klerk (like Mandela, an attorney by training).

18 Jan 1989

PW Botha had a mild stroke.


PW Botha gives the Sharpeville 6 a reprieve from the death sentence.

10 Aug 1987

The great mineworkers strike begins - an unprecedented 300,000 mineworkers down tools and go on strike, returning to work on the 30th August 1987.


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.


The USA introduces mandatory sanctions against South Africa.

3 Mar 1986

The Gugulethu Seven are murdered.

11 Nov 1985

The New Zealand government announces that it is:

  • instructing the Export-Import Corporation not to provide assistance to companies in respect of business with South Africa;

  • banning the sale to South Africa of computer equipment;

  • prohibiting the import of Krugerrands;

  • not allowing the Export Guarantee organization to enter into export guarantee commitments for new business with South Africa;

  • banning the import from South Africa of ammunition, arms and military vehicles;

  • undertaking to discourage all scientific and cultural events, "except where these contribute towards the ending of apartheid or have no possible role in promoting it

30 Oct 1985

The Netherlands tells the UN General Assembly that:

"During its membership of the Security Council the Netherlands initiated the consultations leading to the adoption of resolution 558 (1984), which calls on Member States of the United Nations to ban the import of South African arms as a necessary complement to resolution 418 (1977). At the national level the Netherlands Government is now in the process of introducing legislation to prohibit the export of paramilitary goods to South Africa and to give a statutory basis to the provisions of resolution 558 (1984)…

"Pending agreement on investment restrictions with adequate international support, my Government has taken steps designed to ensure the faithful observance of the Code of Conduct for European companies with interests in South Africa… To enhance the Code's effectiveness even further, the Netherlands seeks to make it more comprehensive and to tighten up supervision of its application. Reporting on the observance of the Code is intended to become obligatory for Netherlands companies with branches in South Africa and contraventions of the Code's statutory provisions will result in sanctions being imposed on them. Also, the Netherlands has consistently advocated the establishment of a mandatory oil embargo against South Africa. Meanwhile my Government fully subscribes to the measure agreed upon with our partners in European political co-operation to cease oil exports to South Africa. Furthermore, my Government actively encourages Netherlands companies to reduce their imports of South African coal."

30 Oct 1985

Ireland tells the UN General Assembly that:

"As a matter of policy Ireland does not maintain diplomatic relations with South Africa. There are no cultural agreements between Ireland and South Africa. There is no Irish public investment in South Africa. The Government does not encourage trade or other economic relations with South Africa. In this connection the Minister for Health, in September 1984, issued a directive to ensure that no Irish health agencies purchased items of South African origin or engaged in commercial or other dealings with South African agencies. There are no Irish companies with subsidiaries in South Africa, and thus none reporting under the European Community's code of conduct…

"'The Government… does everything possible to prevent international sporting contacts between Ireland and South Africa and refuses to give financial aid to Irish sports organizations which engage in contacts with South Africa. The Government has also prevented representative South African teams from taking part in sports competitions in Ireland."

29 Oct 1985

Austria announces to the UN General Assembly that it has:

"In accordance with those resolutions, Austria has adopted the following unilateral measures: first, to suspend all investments in South Africa by Austrian public enterprises; secondly, to prohibit the import of krugerrands and all other gold coins minted in South Africa; thirdly, to impose restrictions in the field of sports and cultural relations; fourthly, to stop Government guarantees for export credits until further notice; fifthly, to prohibit the participation of public enterprises in South African procurement procedures in the nuclear field; and, sixthly, to prohibit all exports of computer equipment that might be used by the South African army and police.

"Austria has also taken further steps to tighten the arms embargo against South Africa, and it observes the ban on imports of arms from South Africa recommended by the Security Council."

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."

9 Oct 1985

Japan decides to prohibit the export of computers "that might assist the activities of such organizations as the armed forces and the police which enforce apartheid."

25 Sep 1985

Belgium requests SA to remove its military attaché from Brussels.

13 Sep 1985

Canada's secretary of state announces a series of new measures against apartheid South Africa:

  • banning of flights between South Africa and Canada

  • urging Canadian banks to ban loans to the South African government and its agents.

  • urging Canadian companies to ban the sale of crude oil and refined products to South Africa.

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."

11 Nov 1985

In accordance with an executive order of the President of the USA, loans to South Africa are banned, excluding "loans which improve economic opportunities, or educational, housing and health facilities that are open and accessible to South Africans of all races."

11 Oct 1985

In accordance with an executive order of the President of the USA, banning the importation of the krugerrand in the United States.

9 Sep 1985

The President of the USA issued an executive order:

  • banning computer exports to police, military and security forces and agencies "involved in the enforcement of apartheid."

  • Banning the import of military vehicles or arms produced in SA.

  • prohibiting the export of nuclear technology except those required to carry out international agreements on the spread of nuclear arms, or those deemed necessary to protect public health and safety.

19 Aug 1985

The Australian foreign minister announced a number of measures in its parliament:

"(c) Australia is to close its Trade Commission in Johannesburg from the end of September 1985;
"(d) The Government is to prohibit exports to South Africa of petroleum and petroleum products, computer hardware equipment and any other products known to be of use to the South African security forces and is to prohibit the import from South Africa of krugerrands and all other coins minted in South Africa and all arms, ammunition and military vehicles;
"(e) All new investment in South Africa by the Australian Government and public authorities has been suspended except for that which is necessary to maintain Australian diplomatic and consular representation in South Africa;
"(f) All Australian banks and other financial institutions have been asked to suspend making new loans, either directly or indirectly, to borrowers in South Africa;
"(g) Direct investment by the South African government or its agencies in Australia has been prohibited.

"In addition, the Government has placed an embargo on all new government contractual dealings with majority-owned South African firms for contracts above $ 20,000 and has decided to terminate all export facilities available through the Export Finance Insurance Corporation, the Export Market Development Grant Scheme and the Australian Overseas Projects Corporation and certain industry assistance to such firms.

"The Government has decided also to avoid government procurement of supplies from South African sources save that necessary for the maintenance of Australian diplomatic and consular representation in Southern Africa and to restrict government sales of goods and services to South Africa."

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."

6 Jul 1985

Canada introduces a series of measures against the apartheid government:

  • enforcing the UN Security Council's recommendation regarding the prohibition of imports of South African manufactured armaments;

  • stopping the sale of equipment such as computers to the South African police, armed forces, and other South African departments and agencies involved in the enforcement of apartheid;

  • issuing guidelines on the boycotting of sporting contacts between nationally-representative South African and Canadian athletes;

  • strengthening its voluntary Code of Conduct concerning employment practices of Canadian companies operating in South Africa;

  • discouraging the sale of Krugerrands;

  • terminating the applicability of insurance policies issued by the EDM to South Africa;

  • terminating toll-processing of Namibian uranium imported through South Africa;

  • scrapping the double tax agreement with South Africa;

  • close monitoring of contacts between the South African government or its agents, and Canadian federal departments

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."

18 Jun 1985

Finland's parliament's foreign affairs committe appeals to the Finnish government to end all economic relationships with apartheid South Africa.

7 Jun 1985

The Norweigian Government introduces the following measures:

"(a) Norway's import of goods from South Africa will be subject to automatic licensing, and opportunities to reduce trade with South Africa will be evaluated by the authorities in cooperation with business, industries and organizations concerned.
"(b) In co-operation with the parties concerned, the Ministry of Justice should consider a statutory prohibition on the sale of Norwegian crude oil to South Africa.
"(c) In cases where raw materials have traditionally been imported from
South Africa for processing in Norway and where the switch to other suppliers would imply considerable extra costs, the Government will consider the question of giving government financial aid to help the companies concerned to readjust.
"(d) Following an understanding between the Government and the Norwegian Shipowners' Association, a scheme will be set up to ensure that the authorities can record transport of crude oil to South Africa on ships registered in Norway. The Norwegian Shipowners' Association will send these records to the Ministry of Trade and Commerce in the form of quarterly reports on the volume of oil transported and number of ships involved."

5 Jun 1985

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

29 May 1985

Denmark prohibits new Danish investment into South West Africa - Namibia or South Africa.


South African armed forces attacked Botswana.

Lesbian and Gays Against Oppression (Lago) founded.

1 Apr 1985

Sweden bans loans and financial leasing to South Africa.

21 Mar 1985

Police in Langa opened fire on blacks marching to mark the 25th anniversary of the Sharpeville shootings. At least 21 demonstrators were killed.

20 Feb 1985

Sweden extends its embargo against apartheid South Africa to include data processing equipment and the export of fuel to the South African military or police.

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."


3 Dec 1984

Denmark bans military imports from South Africa.

24 Jul 1984

France bans new investment into South Africa.


PW Botha becomes President.

21 Nov 1983

Sweden introduces an embargo against the import of military material from South Africa.


The United Democratic Front, a coalition of almost 600 organisations, is formed to persuade the Government to end apartheid.


White South Africans vote "yes" for a tricameral parliament that included coloured and indians, but excluded the black majority (and whites held the majority of the seats).

30 Sep 1982

Belgium ceases its visa-free privileges for South Africans.

1 Apr 1982

Sweden starts denying visas to South Africans representing the apartheid regime in the areas of sport, science or culture.

5 Feb 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.


Ciskei is declared independent. The independence of Ciskei was only ever recognized by South Africa and other South African homelands (Transkei, Venda, and Bophuthatswana).


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


National Party


Progressive Federal Party


New Republic Party




15 Apr 1981

Denmark announces to the UN General Assembley the following measures it has introduced against apartheid South Africa:

  • recalling the Danish trade commissioner at the Consulate-General;

  • Royal Greenland Trade Organization stopping importing from South Africa;

  • instructing its Consulate-General in Johannesburg not to promote exports to South Africa;

  • urging its utility companies not to buy coal from South Africa;

  • not providing exports to South Africa with export credit insurance.

3 Jul 1980

Italy tells the UN Security Council that:

"Under Italian legislation, only the export of military aircraft is subject to Government licence, but in the case of South Africa this regime of controls has been extended to civilian aircraft since 1972. The Italian Government has refrained since 1972 from issuing export licences for components parts of both MB 326K aircraft and the Rolls Royce 'Viper' engine."

3 Jun 1980

Canada withdraws South Africa's "Commonwealth trade preferences".

1 June 1980

Umkhonto we Sizwe bombed Sasol's Secunda plant, along with 2 other Sasol installations.

Patrick Chamusso was arrested in the aftermath of the bombs, as he was one of the last drivers to leave the area at the Secunda plant where the bomb was placed, and police were looking ANC operatives inside Sasol who helped the MK operatives gain access to the plant. Police at the time had the power to hold people suspected of political crimes indefinitely, without access to a lawyer or family. Torture was routine.

When Patrick was unable to produce an alibi, he was tortured and jailed; when he refused to admit guilt for an act he didn't commit, the officer ordered his wife, Precious (Bonnie Henna), to be tortured as well.

Patrick was detained for two weeks and had a bad time. He came out a changed man. Patrick had by now had 2 run-ins with the police, despite the fact that he had avoided any kind of political involvement all his life.  He had been though hell for doing nothing.

He decided that, if he was going to suffer the trauma of detention, he may as well suffer it for a reason and do something...

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”).

13 Dec 1979

Venda is declared independent. The independence of Venda was only ever recognized by South Africa and other South African homelands (Transkei, Ciskei, and Bophuthatswana).

30 Jul 1979

Austria revokes its visa agreement with South Africa, reintroducing the requirement for South Africans to apply for an entry visa.


Following the "Information Scandal", BJ Vorster quits.

24 Jan 1979

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

1 Nov 1978

Denmark and Norway introduce visa requirements for South African citizens.

10 Apr 1978

Canada starts denying visas to South African athletes and officials of South African sports to attend sports functions, and introduces visa requirements for all South Africans visiting Canada.


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

19 Dec 1979

Canada decides to:

  • close its Consulate-General in Cape Town;

  • withdraw its Trade Commissioners from Cape Town and Johannesburg;

  • withdraw its "government account" facilities of the Export Development Corporation (EDM) for Canadian exports to South Africa;

  • withdraw EDC foreign investment insurance facilities for Canadian investments in South Africa.

4 Jul 1978

Spain ends its visa agreement with South Africa.

6 Dec 1977

Bophuthatswana, consisting of 7 seperate parts, is declared independent. The independence of Bophuthatswana was only ever recognized by South Africa and other South African homelands (Transkei, Ciskei, and Venda).

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 Sep 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.

Biko had been arrested on the 18th August 1977 in King Williams Town, under the Terrorism Act No 83 of 1967.

30 Jul 1977

A Soviet Union surveillance satellite discovers a nuclear weapons testing site in the Kalahari region of South Africa, the Soviet Union sends the satellite over to take more detailed photographs in 4 different passes over the site a week later. At a press conference in August 1977, the Soviet Union provides exact coordinates of the site. SA government spokesmen dismiss it as Soviet propaganda.


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

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

17 organisation are banned in South Africa


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."

25 Oct 1976

Transkei is declared independent, becoming the first black homeland in South Africa. Transkei is a largely isiXhosa-speaking area between the Kei river and what was then called Natal (now KwaZulu-Natal). The independence of Transkei was only ever recognized by South Africa and other South African homelands (Bophuthatswana, Ciskei, and Venda). The word "Transkei" means the "area beyond the Kei".


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.

1 Jan 1975

Belgium ceases providing assistance to anybody emigrating to SA.

13 Jun 1974



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


United Party


National Party


Progressive Party





The United Nations declares apartheid "a crime against humanity".

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.


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


Black Homeland Citizenship Act, changing the status of the inhabitants of the 'homelands' so that they were no longer citizens of South Africa, and therefore had none of the rights that came with citizenship.

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





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


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


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. Tsafendas escaped death claiming insanity, saying that a large worm in his stomach told him to kill Verwoerd.

6 Jun 1966

Robert Kennedy delivers a speech in Cape Town.


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




Oct 1964

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

12 Aug 1964

South Africa is banned from the Olympic Games.

14 Jun 1964

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


Eddie Daniels begins a 15 year prison term on Robben Island. While in prison, Daniels graduated from high school and received BA and B.Com degrees from the University of South Africa (UNISA). On Daniels' release in 1979, he was placed under house arrest and banned for a further 5 years.  After his house arrest Daniels taught in Cape Town until his retirement in 1993.

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 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.


Umkhonto weSizwe is founded, with Nelson Mandela heading it.

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

31 May 1961

After quitting the Commonwealth, South Africa becoms a republic.


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





In July 1960 communist China cuts off trade with South Africa (resumed again on the 28th October 1993)

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.

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.

Basil D'Oliviera leaves South Africa for England, to pursue a career in a country without a colour bar.

Shortly afterwards the ANC and PAC are banned

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


Es’kia Mphahlele publishes his memoir, “Down Second Avenue”, illustrating the injustices of apartheid. The memoir covers his early childhood and manhood.


Led by Robert Sobukwe, the Pan Africanist Party (PAC) is formed.


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


United Party


National Party





The Promotion of Black Self-Government Act, which set up independent "homelands" for black people (in practice, the apartheid government had a strong influence over these homelands).


The Mines and Work Act, formalising racial discrimination in employment.


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





The Bantu Education Act, designed to reduce the level of education attainable by black people.


The Reservation of Separate Amenities Act, prohibiting people of different races from using the same public amenities, such as drinking fountains, restrooms, etc,...


The South African Communist Party is banned.

27 April 1950

The Group Areas Act, barring people of particular races from various urban areas.


The Population Registration Act, requiring all citizens to register as black, white or coloured.

6 April 1950

Patrick Chamusso is born in Mozambique.


Amendment to The Immorality Act, making it a criminal offence for a white person to have any sexual relations with a person of a different race.

17 Dec 1949

The ANC Youth League's 'Program of Action' is adopted by the ANC at its annual conference. The program advocates the use of strikes, boycotts, civil disobedience and noncooperation to achieve full citizenship and direct parliamentary representation for all South Africans.


Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act

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.


United Party


Herenigde Nasionale Party


Afrikaners Party


Labour Party






PW Botha is elected to parliament for the first time as a members of the Herenigde Nasionale Party - Botha will later become President of South Africa.


India severs trade relationships with the Union of South Africa, in protest against its discriminatory treatment of people with an Asian origin.

18 Jul 1918

Nelson Mandela is born.


Secret Broederbond is formed to advance the Afrikaner cause.

Jan Smuts

"It has now become an accepted axiom in our dealings with the Natives that it is dishonourable to mix white and black blood... We have felt more and more that if we are to solve our Native question, it is useless to try to govern black and white in the same institutions of government and legislation. They are different not only in colour but in minds and in political capacity..." Jan Smuts speaking at the London Savoy Hotel

OR Tambo
27 Oct 1917

Oliver Reginald Tambo is born in Mbizana, a rural town in eastern Mpondoland in what was then the Cape Province (now Eastern Cape).


The first recorded use of the word "apartheid", in a speech by Jan Smuts.


PW Botha is born.


Ghandi is arrested for the first time in South Africa.


National party is formed.


The Land Act is introduced, which prevent blacks (except those living in the Cape Province) from buying land outside reserves.

16 Aug 1908

Mohandas 'Mohatma' Ghandi (a Hindu) leads 3000 Muslims, Hindus and Christians to burn their passes in the courtyard of the Hamidia Mosque in Newtown, Johannesburg.

11 Sep 1906

Mohatma Ghandi coins the term "Satyagraha" to describe South Africa's non-violent movement.


The Chinese Exclusion Act is passed.

8 Sep 1901

Hendrik Frensch Verwoerd is born in Amsterdam.


Krom Hendricks, a Cape Malay, is excluded from the first South African cricket team to tour England. Hendricks, a fast bowler, had been singled out by the visiting English captain of 1892 as central to any South African side that might be selected to tour England. Hendricks' fate was sealed when the head of South African cricket, Sir William Milton, vetoed Hendricks’s selection (after consulting the Cape Prime Minister, Cecil John Rhodes).


End of slave "apprenticeship", which started in 1834.


Slavery is abolished and slaves become "apprentices" for 4 years.


The governor of the Cape Colony, Rijk Tulbagh, prepares a set of rules to govern the control of slaves was prepared by (these became known as the Tulbagh Code):

  • A curfew existed for slaves, who had to be indoors by ten o'clock at night. If they were out later they were required to carry a pass and a lantern.

  • Slaves were not allowed passage through the streets of Cape Town on horseback or in a wagon.

  • Slaves were forbidden to sing, whistle, or make any kind of sound at night.

  • Slaves could not enter public houses or bars (taphuis).

  • Slaves could not congregate in groups on public holidays.

  • Slaves were not allowed to wait near a church entrance during service.

  • Slaves could not stop to converse on the streets of Cape Town, at risk of being publicly caned.

  • Slaves who made false claims or insulted freemen of the Cape were to be punished by public flogging and to be held in chains.

  • Slaves who proffered violence to their masters were to be put to death, no mercy may be shown to such offenders.

  • Slaves were not permitted to carry, or own, firearms



The first slave in the Cape Colony, Abraham van Batavia, arrives.


Wikipedia: History of South Africa in the Apartheid era

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