After the 1976 Soweto uprising the AAM stepped up its campaign for the Labour government to end all contacts between the British and South African armed forces and support a mandatory UN embargo. This petition was signed by 64,000 people and presented to the Foreign Secretary David Owen on 21 March 1977, the anniversary of the Sharpeville massacre. In November Britain dropped its veto and the UN imposed a mandatory arms ban on South Africa.
Benjamin Moloise was sentenced to death in June 1983 on a framed charge of killing a South African security policeman. This vigil outside the South African Embassy, calling for his release, was held on 6 April 1984, the fifth anniversary of the execution of Solomon Mahlangu. In spite of an international campaign for clemency, Benjamin Moloise was hanged on 18 October 1985.
Clarence Thompson, General Secretary of the West Indian Standing Conference, speaking at the AAM rally in Trafalgar Square on 16 June 1985. 25,000 people marched up Whitehall to Trafalgar Square on 16 June 1985 to demand sanctions against South Africa. Left to right: Jerry Herman from the US Disinvestment Campaign, Trevor Huddleston, Denis Goldberg of the ANC, Clarence Thompson, Zerbanoo Gifford of the Liberal Party and SWAPO leader Hidipo Hamutenya.
The Boycott Movement circulated these guidelines for setting up local organising committees for the March Boycott Month in 1960. They stressed the need to win broad support for the boycott and suggested approaching faith and women’s groups, trade unions, students and chambers of commerce. They asked supporters to talk to shoppers on the streets, not just pass resolutions.
AAM Hon. Secretary Abdul Minty, Chair Bob Hughes MP and Liberal MP Jeremy Thorpe delivered a petition to Labour Foreign Secretary David Owen on the anniversary of the Sharpeville massacre, 21 March 1977. It asked the British government to impose a strict British arms ban against South Africa and support a UN mandatory embargo. Next day Abdul Minty travelled to New York to represent the AAM at a special UN Security Council meeting on South Africa. The UN imposed a mandatory arms embargo against South Africa in November 1977.
Anti-apartheid demonstrators marched through Exeter to protest at a visit by the South African ‘Barbarians’ rugby team in the autumn of 1979. The team’s game against Devon was part of an eight-match tour of Britain. There were protests at every match. The Sports Council, TUC, British Council of Churches, and Labour and Liberal Parties all called for the cancellation of the tour.
British trade unionists protested outside South Africa House in London on the first day of the trial of veteran South African trade unionist Oscar Mpetha on 3 March 1981. After a long trial Mpetha was sentenced to five years imprisonment. He was released in 1989 soon after his 80th birthday. Left to right: General Secretaries Jack Boddy from the Agricultural Workers Union, Alan Sapper from the film technicians union ACTT and Stan Pemberton, President of the Transport and General Workers Union.
The Festival of African Sounds at Alexandra Palace, north London, celebrated Nelson Mandela’s 65th birthday in 1983. Zenani Mandela was a special guest. The bust of Mandela in the photograph was created by sculptor Ian Walters. Mandela’s birthday was marked by events all over Britain. The London Borough of Greenwich awarded him the freedom of the borough and public gardens were named after him in Leeds and Hull.
On 20 July 1985 the apartheid government imposed a draconian State of Emergency in key areas of South Africa. As well as protesting outside the South African Embassy, the AAM met Conservative Foreign Office Minister Malcolm Rifkind to press for sanctions against South Africa.
The special police unit Koevoet was known for its extreme brutality perpetrated on captured Namibian freedom fighters. This leaflet publicised the case of eight supporters of the South West Africa People’s Organisation (SWAPO) charged under the Terrorism Act and tortured to force them to confess to the charges.
The Labour government elected in October 1964 continued to supply spare parts for South African military equipment and to train SADF personnel. It also supplied 18 Buccaneer aircraft under a contract signed by the Conservative government. The AAM campaigned against this as a betrayal of Labour Leader Harold Wilson’s pledge to ‘stop this bloody traffic in the weapons of oppression’.
The TUC distributed this leaflet calling on trade unionists to boycott South African goods in response to a call from the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU). It asked them to support the Boycott Committee’s March Month of Boycott. It held back from taking the more radical step proposed by the ICFTU of asking its affiliated unions to instruct their members not to handle products from South Africa.
Mug produced for the AAM’s ‘Nelson Mandela: Freedom at 70’ campaign.
This pamphlet detailed South Africa’s arms build-up in the 1960s and argued that Western military support for apartheid could lead to a global racial conflagration. It was widely distributed and ran into several editions.
Southern Africa the Imprisoned Society (SATIS) marked the UN Day of Solidarity with Political Prisoners on 11 October 1981 with a vigil on the steps of St Martin’s in the Fields. The vigil protested at the repression of the South African trade union movement and called for the release of veteran trade unionist Oscar Mpetha.
Disabled AAM supporters picketed the opening day of the International Stoke Mandeville Games, forerunner of the Paralympics, in July 1981. They were calling for South Africa to be barred from the Games. The following year a new group, Disabled People Against Apartheid was formed with support from all the main organisations representing disabled people in Britain. South Africa was expelled from the Games in 1985.
Mike Terry, Bob Hughes MP and Abdul Minty at the Festival of African Sounds held to celebrate Nelson Mandela’s 65th birthday in 1983. Zenani Mandela was a special guest. The bust of Mandela in the photograph was created by sculptor Ian Walters. Mandela’s birthday was marked by events all over Britain. The London Borough of Greenwich awarded him the freedom of the borough and public gardens were named after him in Leeds and Hull.
Trevor Huddleston, Jesse Jackson and GLC member Paul Boateng at a press conference to announce a March against Apartheid on 2 November 1985. The march took place just after Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher rejected most of the sanctions measures imposed by the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Nassau.
SATIS (Southern Africa the Imprisoned Society) held a vigil for the Sharpeville Six on the steps of St Martin’s in the Fields in April 1986. The Six, five men and one woman, were sentenced to death in December 1985 for taking part in a demonstration at which a black deputy mayor was killed. They were reprieved in July 1988 after spending two and a half years on death row.
The Boycott Movement produced three issues of its broadsheet, Boycott News, early in 1960. The first issue printed an appeal by ANC President Chief Albert Luthuli for a boycott of South African goods. The appeal was also signed by Peter Brown, Chairman of the South African Liberal Party and GM Naicker, President of the South African Indian Congress. The broadsheet sold over 100,000 copies.