Death sentences

pic7902. Vigil for Solomon Mahlangu, 1979

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.

pic8106. ‘Stop the Death Sentences’

pic8106. ‘Stop the Death Sentences’

Three young men, 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.

pic8308. Wreaths for the Moroka Three

The Moroka Three, Jerry Mosololi, Marcus Motaung and Simon Mogoerane,  were young ANC members convicted of belonging to the ANC’s armed wing Umkhonto we Sizwe. They were sentenced to death and hanged on 9 June 1983 in spite of a huge international campaign for clemency. Supporters of SATIS (Southern Africa the Imprisoned Society) held an all night vigil outside the South African embassy on the night before their execution. The picture shows a South African Embassy official removing wreaths attached to the embassy gate in memory of the three young men.

pic8404. Vigil for Benjamin Moloise

pic8404. Vigil for Benjamin Moloise

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.

pic8605. Vigil for the Sharpeville Six

pic8605. Vigil for the Sharpeville Six

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.

po094. No Apartheid Executions: Join the Campaign!

In the mid-1980s there was a big increase in the number of political prisoners sentenced to hang in South Africa. At least 36 people were condemned to death in 1985–87 and five of them were executed. SATIS co-ordinated a ‘No Apartheid Executions’ campaign, drawing in thousands of people who had never been involved in anti-apartheid activity. As a result of international action and campaigns inside South Africa, many survived on death row until they were reprieved as part of the negotiating process in the early 1990s.

pic8724. ‘Stop Apartheid Executions’, 5 August 1987

South African Youth Congress representatives Joe Nkuna and Faye Reagon launched a campaign to save the lives of 32 people sentenced to death in South Africa for their anti-apartheid activities. They planned to present over 32,000 signatures – 1,000 for each prisoner – to the British, West German and US embassies in South Africa to internationalise the campaign. In London 43 MPs signed an early day motion backing the initiative. Southern Africa the Imprisoned Society (SATIS) and the AAM organised a meeting chaired by Betty Heathfield of Women Against Pit Closures.

po093. Save the Sharpeville Six

po093. Save the Sharpeville Six

Poster produced for the campaign to save the lives of the Sharpeville Six, who were sentenced to death after joining a demonstration at which a black deputy mayor was killed. The six were reprieved in July 1988 after spending two and a half years on death row.