Southampton anti-apartheid supporters asked shoppers to boycott South African goods outside Safeways on 25 April 1981. The action was part of a national consumer boycott day, with action at 40 shopping centres throughout the country. Activists also collected signatures for a national sanctions petition launched on 21 March as part of the AAM’s ‘Isolate Apartheid South Africa – Sanctions Now!’ campaign. Seventy thousand people signed the petition.
In 1971 the Conservative government agreed to sell seven Westland Wasp helicopters to South Africa. This leaflet publicised a march to the Westland factory in Hayes, near London. Trade unionists from DATA (Draughtsmen’s and Allied Technicians’ Association) refused to work on the contract. The helicopters were supplied, but because of widespread opposition these were the only weapons exported to South Africa under the 1970–74 Conservative government.
Leaflet asking people to take part in the March Month of Boycott. Around 700,000 copies were distributed in the run-up to the campaign launch on 28 February 1960.
The planned tour of England by an all-white Springbok cricket team in 1970 sparked widespread protest. The photograph shows protesters outside Lord’s cricket ground. On the left is Chris de Broglio from the South African Non-Racial Olympic Commttee (SANROC) with AAM staff member Alan Brooks. After a campaign involving threats of direct action from Stop the Seventy Tour (STST) and mass protests co-ordinated by the AAM, the Cricket Council cancelled the tour in May 1970.
Demonstrators outside the Westland Helicopters factory after a march through Hayes, Middlesex. In March 1971 the Conservative government announced a contract to sell seven Wasp helicopters to the South African Defence Force. Trade unionists at Westland’s Yeovil plant refused to work on the helicopters. Although the Wasps were supplied, opposition from British public opinion and from the Commonwealth was so strong that that no other arms deals were agreed.
On the first anniversary of the death of Steve Biko on 12 September 1978, the AAM unfurled a 90-foot banner from the roof of St Martin’s in the Fields. It listed the names of all those known to have died under interrogation by the South African Security Police. Inside the church a special service commemorated Steve Biko’s life.
Hundreds of people kept an all-night vigil at South Africa House in London before the execution of Solomon Mahlangu on 6 April 1979. In Scotland AAM supporters picketed the South African consulate in Glasgow. Solomon Mahlangu was hanged in spite of a huge international campaign. The UN Security Council and the governments of the UK and all the other major Western European countries appealed to the South African government for clemency. US President Jimmy Carter also intervened.
Vigil on the steps of St Martin’s in the Fields on 16 March 1981, calling for the release of Nelson Mandela. Left to right: Dulcie September, Theo Kotze, former Director of the South African Christian Institute, former political prisoners Stephen Lee and Tim Jenkin, British miners leader Mick McGahey and actor Joanna Lumley. The vigil was the start of a joint campaign by the AAM and the International Defence and Aid Fund.
Nelson Mandela was given the Freedom of the City of Glasgow on 4 August 1981. Glasgow was the first of many British cities to honour Mandela in this way. The photograph shows ANC representative Ruth Mompati speaking at a meeting in Glasgow City Chambers held after the award ceremony. Also in the picture are Nigerian Vice-President Alex Ekwueme, the Lord Provost of Glasgow Michael Kelly and the Chair of the Scottish AA Committee, Brian Filling.
Activists in the multi-racial area of St Paul’s, Bristol declared it an anti-apartheid free zone in the early 1980s. Opposition to apartheid was so strong that the local Tesco’s stopped stocking South African goods.
The AAM marked the eleventh anniversary of the Sharpeville massacre in 1971 with a rally in Hyde Park against arms sales to South Africa. A dramatised expose of Labour and Conservative governments record on arms sales was presented by artists including Monty Python star Graham Chapman. Because of widespread opposition from the British public the only weapons sold to South Africa by the 1970–74 Conservative government were seven Wasp helicopters.
This report argued that Marconi’s contract to supply troposcatter communications equipment to South Africa was a breach of the arms embargo imposed by the 1974 Labour government. The equipment was to be used to send information from the South African forces fighting SWAPO guerrillas in northern Namibia to the Defence Department’s computer centre in the Cape. The AAM argued that the arms ban should cover all equipment with ‘dual purpose’ military and civilian use and that no equipment should be sold to the South African defence forces.
Leaflet asking shoppers to boycott South African produce during the March Month of Boycott Action. 200,000 of these leaflets were distributed during the month, together with a further 350,000 copies of a special Labour Party version.
Demonstrators waiting for the arrival of South African Defence Minister P W Botha at the Ministry of Defence in Whitehall, 10 June 1971. Botha was seeking assurances from his British counterpart Lord Carrington that Britain would supply warships to South Africa. He was accompanied by SADF Commander in Chief General Hiemstra, a former Nazi sympathiser.
The umbrella group Stop All Racist Tours (SART) was launched at a press conference on 31 July 1973. It was set up to campaign against the British Lions rugby tour of South Africa planned for 1974. Its sponsors included the AAM, ANC, SANROC, National Union of Students (NUS) and the Catholic Institute of International Relations (CIIR). In the photograph are Ron Taylor, Dennis Brutus and Wilfred Brutus.
ANC women picketed South Africa House to demand freedom for all women political prisoners on 7 March 1979, the eve of International Women's Day. They also called for the release of Solomon Mahlangu. In the photo are former political prisoner Dulcie September and ANC Women’s Section members Ramnie Dinat and Teresa Nannan.
Three young ANC members, Johannes Shabangu, Anthony Tsotsobe and David Moise, were sentenced to death in Pretoria on 19 August 1981. They were charged with taking part in attack on the SASOL oil-from-coal power station and a Johannesburg police station. All three were school students who left South Africa to join Umkhonto we Sizwe after the Soweto uprising in 1976. After an international campaign the sentence was commuted to life imprisonment on 7 June 1983.
Wales AAM supporters asked Shirley Bassey to speak out against apartheid when she appeared at St David’s Hall, Cardiff in November 1982. The year before, she performed in Sun City, South Africa, breaking the cultural boycott. Shirley Bassey grew up in Cardiff’s multiracial Butetown area.
One of the first decisions of the Conservative government elected in June 1970 was to resume arms sales to South Africa. This leaflet described life under apartheid and set out the moral case for an arms ban.
Namibia Support Committee protesters called for the recognition of SWAPO freedom fighters Sam Mundjindji and Veiko Nghitewa as prisoners of war. The protest marked the opening of their trial on 5 February 1984. The two men had been subject to months of torture and solitary confinement. They were eventually released in July 1989 in the run-up to Namibian independence.