Death sentences

pic8803. ‘Stop Repression of Trade Unionists’

The apartheid government escalated its repression of trade unionists in 1988 – four trade union leaders were sentenced to death and hundreds were detained. In response the AAM and SATIS (Southern Africa the Imprisoned Society) launched a campaign to defend trade unionists in South Africa and Namibia. It was launched at a demonstration outside the South African Embassy on 1 February 1988 on the day the trial of Moses Mayekiso, General Secretary of the National Union of Metalworkers (NUMSA) reopened in Johannesburg.

pic8806. Save the Sharpeville Six

pic8806. Save the Sharpeville Six

Women from the ANC Women’s Section and AAM Women’s Committee demonstrated in support of Theresa Ramashamola to mark 8 March, International Women’s Day. Theresa was one of the Sharpeville Six, who were sentenced to death in December 1985 because they were present at a protest where black collaborators were killed. In December 1987 the South African Appeal Court rejected their appeal for clemency. Southern Africa the Imprisoned Society (SATIS) responded with a campaign of letters and postcards asking the British government to intervene. After huge international protests the death sentence was commuted in July 1988.

pic8804. Artists Against Apartheid call for the release of the Sharpeville Six

Artists Against Apartheid called for the release of the Sharpeville Six, 16 March 1988. In the photograph with Trevor Huddleston are (left to right) Jerry Dammers, Pat and Greg Kane from the pop duo Hue and Cry, and Suggs from the ska band Madness. The Sharpeville Six were sentenced to death in December 1985 because they were present at a protest where black collaborators were killed. In December 1987 the South African Appeal Court rejected their appeal for clemency. After a big international campaign their sentence was commuted in July 1988.

pic8805. Save the Sharpeville Six

pic8805. Save the Sharpeville Six

The Sharpeville Six were sentenced to death in December 1985 because they were present at a protest where black collaborators were killed. In December 1987 the South African Appeal Court rejected their appeal for clemency. Southern Africa the Imprisoned Society (SATIS) responded with a big campaign of letters and postcards asking the British government to intervene. It held weekly demonstrations outside the South African Embassy. In the photograph are leading British trade unionists at the entrance to 10 Downing Street. After a huge international campaign the death sentence was commuted in July 1988.

pic8810. Save the Sharpeville Six

pic8810. Save the Sharpeville Six

Young AAM supporters at a vigil for the Sharpeville Six in front of Nottingham Town Hall on 13 April 1998.

pic8811. Pensioners call for the release of the Sharpeville Six

Supporters of Greater London Pensioners call for the release of the Sharpeville Six outside South Africa House in June 1988. The Six were condemned to hang because they were present at a protest where black collaborators were killed. After a big international campaign their sentence was commuted in July 1988.

pic8918. ‘Save the Upington 14’

pic8918. ‘Save the Upington 14’

The Upington 14 were sentenced to death on 26 May 1989 because they were present at a demonstration during which a black policeman was killed. They included a 60-year old woman, Evelyn de Bruin. Anti-apartheid supporters picketed the South African Embassy in London calling for clemency for the Upington 14. After an international campaign for their release, the sentence was overturned in May 1991.

pic8920. ‘William Ntombela must not hang’

William Ntombela was one of several South African trade unionists sentenced to death in 1989. The British shopworkers union USDAW launched a petition for his release, signed by 5,000 members.  In the photograph USDAW General Secretary Garfield Davies (left) displays the petition. Partly as a result of the campaign the sentence was commuted to life imprisonment.