About this site

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

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1976

South African Arm defeated by Angolan People's Army.

Many Soweto student leaders were influenced by the ideas of black consciousness. The South African Students Movement (SASM), one of the first organisations of black high school students, played an important role in the 1976 uprising. There were also small groups of student activists who were linked to old ANC members and the ANC underground. ANC underground structures issued pamphlets calling on the community to support students and linking the student struggle to the struggle for national liberation.

Fietas, Johannesburg: Major removals in Pageview begin.

The Department of Community Development lists 4988 housing units administered by itself in Lenasia.

Inter-Cabinet Council formed by the Prime Minister with members drawn from the Coloured Persons Council and the Indian Council and the white cabinet. First meeting boycotted by the Coloured Labour Party (Dugard 1978: 101).

Bantu Administration Amendment Act No 2:

This Act was similar to the 1927 Black Administration Act [SA], with a few amendments.

Population Registration Act No 24:

Provided for census and citizenship rights in Transkei and for the compilation of a population register.

Commenced: 4 March 1977

Citizenship of Transkei Act No 26:

Set out requirements for citizenship.

Commenced: 4 March 1977

Tennyson Makiwane, Alfred Kgokong and other "African Nationalists" expelled from ANC.

According to the government-appointed Cillie Commission of Enquiry 575 people died. Police action resulted in 451 deaths.

3 907 people were injured. The police were responsible for 2 389 injuries.

Both the death and inquiry figures were disputed by various sources as being too low.

5 980 were arrested for offences related to the resistance in the townships.

Within four months of the Soweto revolt 160 African communities all over the country were involved in resistance. It was estimated that at least 250 000 people in Soweto were actively involved in the resistance. Resistance in the various communities were located in all four provinces and the homelands.

A police witness said to the Cillie Commission that at least 46 incidents of arson, strikes and disturbances occurred in Venda, Lebowa and Gazankulu.

The Internal Security Amendment Act replaced the Suppression of Communism Act. The new act enhanced the powers of the Minister of Justice and included the declaration of unlawful organisations, prohibition of publications, prohibition of attendance at gatherings, the restriction of persons to certain areas, detention of persons in custody and witnesses.

In 1976 large numbers of students left the country and went into exile.

In July 1976 the Minister of Police imposed a nationwide prohibition of meetings, which was renewed until the end of the year.

South African troops invaded Angola in support of the Unita and FNLA alliance. They penetrated up to 900 km into Angola.

The Transkei was declared an independent homeland.

Thandi Modise, student in Soweto, is jailed for ten years.

Mamphela Ramphele detained under Section 10 of Terrorism Act.

Winnie Mandela establishes Black women's Federation and Black Parents' Association during Soweto uprisings. She is detained under Internal Security Act.

Fatima Meer's home petrol bombed.

Gill Marcus, becomes editor of ANC's weekly bulletin

1 January 1976

The Centre against Apartheid was established in the United Nations Secretariat, with E. S. Reddy, Chief of Section for African Affairs, as director.

5 January 1976

A full-scale television service is officially opened by the Prime Minister. He issues a warning against slanted news and unbalanced presentations.

5 January 1976

The Meadowlands Tswana School Board meets with the local inspector of the Bantu Education Department to discuss the conflict that has been escalating in Soweto schools since the beginning of the school year.

22 January 1976

A government reshuffle, including the appointment of three new ministers and two new deputy ministers is announced on the eve of the opening of the 1976 Parliamentary session. The most significant change is the appointment of Dr. Andries Treurnicht, the conservative former chairman of the Afrikaner Broederbond, as Deputy Minister of Bantu Administration and Bantu Education.

27 January 1976

Signs treaty with Uruguay on the exchange of postal parcels.

30 January 1976

A Parliamentary Internal Security Bill provides for the establishment of a Commission of ten members of Parliament, to investigate internal security matters, in secret, referred to it by the State President and drastic penalties will be imposed on those refusing to testify before it. Its reports will have to be submitted to Parliament, although all or part of them can be kept gar secret, if it is 'not in the public interest' to disclose their contents. It is strongly opposed by the Progressive Reform Party and the Herstigte Nasionale Party. The United Party refuses to sit on the Commission.

2 February 1976

South Africa:Signs second additional treaty to the constitution of the Universal Postal Union of 10 July 1964.

5 February 1976

The Defence Amendment Bill, making provision for the employment of South African conscripted troops anywhere outside South Africa, is approved. The Defence Force may now, at all times, be deployed to prevent or suppress any armed conflict outside the Republic which is, or may be, a threat to the Republic.

7 February 1976

The Minister of Justice announces that apartheid laws will be done away with in sixteen hotels, allowing them to cater for all races. International status will be granted as from 16 February 1976.

12 February 1976

The report of the Snyman Commission into the disturbances on the campus of the University of the North at Turfloop, finds that the South African Students Organization (SASO) was responsible for the unrest at Turfloop and other black campuses, and was aimed at overthrowing the political system in South Africa.

24 February 1976

The first indications of protest over schooling in Afrikaans appears in Soweto schools.

4 March 1976

In the House of Assembly, the Prime Minister criticizes Mozambique's action of closing its border with Rhodesia. He warns of the dangers inherent in the situation and of the aggravating factor presented by the Russian and Cuban involvements in Southern Africa.

4 March 1976

The Black People's Convention, the South African Students Organisation and the South African Students Movement become active in Soweto schools over the issue of schooling in Afrikaans

12 March 1976

It is announced that all South African troops have been withdrawn from Angola except those guarding the Cunene River hydro-electric projects.

14 March 1976

Chief Gatsha Buthelezi makes a major policy statement in Soweto, before an audience of 10,000 people, denouncing the government's homelands policy and indicating that the country must move towards majority rule. He calls for a series of black national conventions to discuss foreign investments, homelands independence and foreign policy, particularly détente with black Africa.

20 March 1976

The Roman Catholic Church decides in principle to open its 192 all-white schools to black pupils. Legal questions relating to this will be discussed with the government.

22 March - 24 March 1976

The Minister of Information and the Interior, Dr. Connie Mulder, pays a three-day official visit to the Ivory Coast. Talks are held on Communist penetration in Africa.

27 March 1976

Remaining troops are withdrawn from the Angolan border after the MPLA government has undertaken through Soviet and British good offices, and the mediation of the United Nations Secretary-General to respect the border, and assure the safety of the project and their personnel.

29 March 1976

Opposition amendments to the Parliamentary Internal Security Commission Bill are defeated in the House of Assembly, where it is given its third reading. The Prime Minister declares that the government believes Parliament, and not the courts, should combat subversion.

31 March 1976

In the 1976-77 budget, defence expenditure is raised to R1,350 m, or 17.2 percent of the total expenditure.

5 April 1976

Signs multilateral treaty modifying and further extending the Wheat Trade Convention, 1971.

9 April - 12 April 1976

Prime Minister Vorster, accompanied by his Foreign Minister Dr. Muller, visits Israel. A joint Ministerial Committee will meet at least once a year to review economic relations and to discuss, inter alia, scientific and industrial cooperation.

19 April 1976

Baleka Kgositsile goes into exile. Works for the ANC in Swaziland.

23 April 1976

A draft constitution for the Transkei is published in Umtata.

27 April 1976

South Africa's diplomatic representation in Taiwan has been raised from Consulate-General to full ambassadorial level.

30 April 1976

Pupils at Orlando West Junior School go on strike against the use of Afrikaans in education.

2 May 1976

Signs treaty with Israel amending the extradition treaty.

3 May 1976

The Parliamentary Internal Security Commission Bill, providing for the establishment of a commission of members of the House of Assembly to investigate internal security matters, is approved in the Senate, and enacted shortly afterwards.

5 May 1976

In the Parliamentary by-election in Durban North, the Progresive Reform Party's candidate gains the party's first seat in Natal, bringing the PRP's representation in the House of Assembly to twelve. The United Party suffers a serious defeat.

12 May 1976

A female teacher is attacked by two robbers on her way to school and is saved by more than 100 pupils from Orlando North Secondary School, who catch the robbers and beat them to death. In another incident in May, a pupil stabs a teacher at Pimville. Police try to arrest the pupils but are stoned by other pupils.

16 May 1976

Pupils at Phefeni Secondary School start boycotting classes in protest against the use of Afrikaans in education. The unrest spreads to Belle Higher Primary School, Thulasizwe Higher Primary School, and Emthonjeni Khulo Ngolawazi Higher Primary School.

17 May 1976

Pupils at Orlando West Junior School strike in protest at the dismissal of a member of the school board. They bombard the principal's office with stones and draw up a memorandum of grievances, which they hand to the principal.

21 May 1976

Parliamentary Internal Security Commission Act No 67:

Established a parliamentary Internal Security Commission and set out its functions. It differed little from the USA House Committee on Un-American Activities except that the South African law had more sanctions at its disposal (Dugard 1978: 173).

Commenced: 21 May 1976

Repealed by s 7 of the Abolition of Restriction on Free Political Activity Act No 206 of 1993.

24 May 1976

Pupils reject a call by the Orlando Diepkloof School 3oard to return to school. The strike spreads to Pimville Higher Primary School. The SA Students Movements makes an attempt to consolidate the situation and holds a conference in Roodepoort to discusses the campaign against the use of Afrikaans as a medium of instruction.

29 May 1976

The South African Electricity Supply Commission (ESCOM) announces in Pretoria that it has decided to order two nuclear power stations from France.

8 June 1976

Security police arrive at Naledi High School and attempt to arrest the leader of the local branch of the SA Students Movement. Pupils stone the police and bum their car.

10 June 1976

The Internal Security Bill is enacted. Originally published on 4 May 1976, as the Promotion of State Security Bill, it is designed to amend and widen the scope of the 1950 Suppression of Communism Act. It is strongly condemned by the opposition and by the legal profession.

11 June 1976

The recently appointed deputy minister of "bantu education", Andries Treumicht, rejects the applications by five Soweto schools to depart from the so-called 50-50 policy in secondary education, which entailed equal use of English and Afrikaans in schooling.

13 June 1976

Sisulu's daughter Lindiwe detained.

13 June 1976

The Naledi branch of the SA Students Movement holds a meeting, attended by representatives of all Soweto schools, at which it is decided that protests will be held on June 16 against the use of Afrikaans in education.

An action committee called the Soweto Students' Representative Council is formed to organise the demonstration, with two representatives from each school.

16 June 1976

Student anger and grievances against Bantu education exploded in. Tens of thousands of high school students took to the streets to protest against compulsory use of Afrikaans at schools. Police opened fire on marching students, killing thirteen-year old Hector Petersen and at least three others. This began an uprising that spread to other parts of the country leaving over 1,000 dead, most of whom were killed by the police.

16 June 1976

Demonstrations by secondary school pupils, protesting against the compulsory use of the Afrikaans language as a medium of instruction,' escalate into an outbreak of violence in Soweto, during which police open fire on the protesters. Casualties occur, the first being Hector Petersen. Rioting, arson, looting and lawlessness spread.

16 June - 24 June 1976

During these days, rioting, arson, destruction and protest spread to other localities and townships, mainly in the Transvaal, but reaching Natal as well as several black 'homelands'.

16 June 1976

Student march takes place in Soweto, with about 20 000 students marching in protest to the new language decree and the Bantu Education system. The march turned out violently with many students being killed by the police, thus begun the Soweto uprising which spread countrywide, and it is believed that Black Consciousness contributed significantly to the ferment behind the uprising, as by 1976 the often inchoate philosophy of black consciousness was the dominant intellectual influence in the political perceptions of the young middle class Africans.

16 June 1976

Police fired at a demonstration in Soweto, Johannesburg, of students protesting against "Bantu education" and the imposition of Afrikaans as a medium of instruction. During that firing and in the ensuing period of nation-wide resistance by students, over a thousand pupils were killed and many more injured.

16 June 1976

Internal Security Amendment Act No 79:

Removed the requirement that internment be linked with states of emergency. It amended five other Security Acts and embodied the 1967 Suppression of Communism Act with some amendments. The 'Sobukwe' clause for indefinite detention was deleted and a new provision for indefinite preventive detention was created instead. A Review Committee was established to review detentions within two months and could recommend further detention. Prohibition of bail and detention of potential witnesses were provided for. Restrictions on movement of banned persons were included.

Commenced: 16 June 1976

Repealed by the Internal Security Act No 74 of 1982 and the Internal Security and Intimidation Amendment Act No 138 of 1991 except for s 10. Section 10 was repealed by the State of Emergency Act No 86 of 1995.

16 June 1976

The Soweto uprisings begin.

16 June 1976

Extra police patrols are deployed.

16 June 1976

The Soweto uprising takes place on the day that the Internal Security Amendment Act comes into operation. It is hard to get a clear picture of exactly what happened on the day. It is exam time for senior pupils, and the exams must be written in Afrikaans. A march starts and pupils from many schools along the way join in. Teargas is fired. Gunshots are fired at the pupils and pandemonium breaks out. Anger at the senseless killings inspires retaliatory action. Police cars are burnt. Fires blaze throughout the night. At least 200 people are killed. The Internal Security Amendment Act, which replaced the Suppression of Communism Act, gives the minister of "justice" enhanced powers to declare organisations unlawful, to prohibit publications, to prohibit attendance at gatherings, to restrict persons to certain areas and to detain persons and witnesses in custody.

17 June 1976

Parliament meets in an Extraordinary Session at the request of the leader of the Opposition, Cohn Eglin. The resignation of the Minister of Bantu Affairs is called for, and that of his conservative Deputy, Andries Treurnicht.

The Minister of Justice and Police, J.T. Kruger, announces his decision to appoint a one-man judicial commission in the person of Justice P.M. Cihhié, Judge-President of the Transvaal, to investigate the disturbances in Soweto.

The Status of the Transkei Bill passes its second reading in the Senate, despite opposition from the United Party and the Progressive Reform Party.

17 June 1976

The second day of the protest is marked by uncontrollable fury. Fires rage in townships throughout the country. Pupils stone cars passing through Soweto. Police shoot at random, and at anyone who raises a fist and shouts "power". Helicopters fly overhead. Workers refuse to go to work.

18 June 1976

The report of the Commission, under the chairmanship of Professor Erika Theron, to investigate matters relating to the Coloured community in South Africa, is submitted to the House of Assembly. The Commission makes 178 recommendations, approved by majority vote, the most important of which the government subsequently rejects, i.e. that political rights be restored to Coloured people in Parliament.

The United Nations Security Council is called into session at the urgent request of the African states. It issues a unanimous condemnation of South Africa for resorting to massive violence against demonstrators opposing racial discrimination.

18 June 1976

The number of skirmishes between pupils and police diminishes. A general stayaway is organised. There are reports of pupils seizing weapons from the police and using them to shoot back at the police.

19 June 1976

The Government Gazette announces that 123 persons have been banned as a result of the June 16 revolt. The minister of police imposes a nationwide prohibition on the holding of meetings, which was later extended to the end of the year. October 2 The Republic of Transkei Constitution Act is passed.

23 June - 24 June 1976

Prime Minister Vorster holds talks with the United States Secretary of State, Dr. Kissinger, in West Germany.

24 June 1976

The Principal's office in Hlangisi Primary (Nyanga) was burnt out and the following day the same riot squad threatened officials at the Bantu administration.

25 June 1976

Acting Prime Minister P.W. Botha, says in the House of Assembly that the government has no objection to 158 of the 178 recommendations in the Theron Report. but that there is no prospect of a qualified franchise, a return to the common voters' roll or direct representation of Coloureds in Parliament. Nor will the Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act be repealed.

The death toll in the riots is officially given as 174 blacks and two whites, the number of wounded 1,222 blacks and six whites, the number of persons arrested 1,298. Property damaged or destroyed is officially listed as sixty-seven state owned beer halls and bottle stores, fifty-three administration buildings, thirteen schools, eight state hostels, 154 vehicles, as well as banks. clinics, bus sheds, hostels and factories - public buildings and amenities built up over the previous twenty-five years.

27 June 1976

The National President of the Black People's Convention declares that riots have ushered in a new era of political consciousness.

27 June 1976

Further arson occurs on Langa Post Office and Zimosa school.

July 1976

In July 1976 the government gazetted that 123 persons were banned.

6 July 1976

The government announces that teaching in Afrikaans in black schools will no longer he compulsory.

6 July 1976

The South African Government annulled the regulation that African pupils be instructed equally in English and Afrikaans, and issued new regulations leaving the choice of the medium of instruction to school principals, subject to approval by the Government.

15 July 1976

The Minister of Justice, JT. Kruger, announces that the provisions of the Internal Security Act, allowing for the unlimited detention without trial of persons deemed to be threatening public order, will apply in the Transvaal Province with immediate effect for one year. All public gatherings are banned and schools in Soweto and other riot areas will remain closed.

18 July 1976

The International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid came into force.

19 July 1976

Extension of the Application of Transkeian Laws Act No 6:

Attempted to define areas of function for Transkeian laws.

Commenced: 19 July 1976

20 July - 19 August 1976

In more than seventy townships, a further series of disturbances occur, leading to considerable destruction of property and loss of life. These riots are apparently now organized by militant youths, demanding change and liberation.

21 July 1976

The closure of schools in black townships is rescinded by the Minister for Police, justice and Prisons.

30 July 1976

The Opposition press strongly attacks the detention of four journalists under the Terrorism Act.

August 1976

The police begin arresting black leaders, not only members of the Black Peoples Convention (BPC) and the South African Students' Organization (SASO), but also members of the Soweto Black Parents' Organization.

August - September 1976

The government's policies are repeatedly and strongly criticized by prominent churchmen.

August 1976

Mid-August:Widespread arrests of black leaders and dissidents, office-bearers, priests, teachers and doctors follow a speech to the National Party Congress in Durban by Justice Minister Kruger, in which he claims that black power will have to be destroyed if race riots are not to become endemic. All the main black opposition groups are affected.

2 August 1976

French officials disclose that France is to supply South Africa with two destroyer escorts.

2 August 1976

UWC students convene a meeting to express solidarity with the students of Soweto and decide to embark on a boycott of classes.

4 August 1976

Riots erupt again in Soweto and spread to other townships in South Africa. The Minister of Justice again bans public meetings under the Riotous Assemblies Act, until the end of August.

6 August 1976

The Hewat Training College in Athlone is set alight in solidarity with the UWC boycotters.

7 August 1976

A new deal for urban blacks is announced in Pretoria by the Minister of Bantu Administration and by the Minister of Justice and Police.

8 August 1976

Fire destroys Struis Bay school Principal's office.

9 August 1976

The Theron Commission Report is discussed at a meeting between the Prime Minister and the sixteen-member Liaison Committee of the Coloured Persons' Representative Council (CPRC).

Violence again erupts in the black townships. The Prime Minister says he does not regard the present combination of external and internal pressures on South Africa as critical.

10 August 1976

The government extends its powers under the Internal Security Act from the Transvaal only to the whole of South Africa.

10 August 1976

Part of a prefabricated building of the Peninsula College for Advanced Technical Education is gutted and three explosives are found at Goodhope Primary in Bellville South.

11 August - 12 August 1976

Violence spreads to Cape Town,to the black townships of Langa, Nyanga and Guguletu and then, for the first time, to Coloured townships.

11 August 1976

African pupils from Langa, Gugulethu and Nyanga hold marches in solidarity with the Soweto students. The Langa students march with placards through their township streets accompanied by their teachers who are determined to keep order. Students are also under police surveillance and 33 people are shot dead in looting related incidents. The police stop the Gugulethu events and students are told to disperse in 8 minutes. The students stand their ground and are eventually showered with tear gas. 25 30 people are arrested. The determined crowd goes on to successfully demand the release of the detainees from the Gugulethu police station.

A number of student leaders at the University of the Western Cape and other community leaders are arrested and detained at Victor Verster prison, near Paarl

12 August 1976

This day saw R2 million worth of damage in 36 hours of fighting. Langa and Gugulethu residents stop employees leaving for work. Young children request donations of petrol from cars to make petrol bombs. Students at the Esselen Park High School in Worcester demonstrate in front of the school and are tear-gassed and baton charged.

UCT students march towards the city centre giving the Black Power Salute to black people passing until the police stop them. 73 students were arrested.

In Bellville, 600 coloured students march from the Bellville Training College and clash with police whilst in UWC a poster parade is broken by police. Poster bearers are arrested because of messages such as: "Sorry Soweto, Kruger is a pig; the revolution is coming."

13 August 1976

The government fully supports the United States initiative for a peaceful settlement of the Rhodesian crisis.

14 August 1976

There are reports of arson in the African townships.

16 August - 20 August 1976

At the 5th Conference of Non-Aligned Nations in Colombo, Sri Lanka, a resolution is adopted calling for an oil embargo on France and Israel because of their arms sales to South Africa.

16 August 1976

Pupils at Alexander Sinton High and Belgravia High boycott classes. 500 UWC students march to the Bellville Magistrate's Court were 15 students appeared on a number of charges arising from the recent events. There is a fire in Arcadia High and classes were boycotted at Somerset West after permission to hold prayer in sympathy with 'Blacks who have died'.

20 August 1976

At a Nordic Council meeting in Copenhagen, the Foreign Ministers of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden recommend an international weapons embargo against South Africa.

Sends notification of approval of recommendations relating to the objectives of the Antarctic treaty. of 1 December 1959.

20 August 1976

Lebowa: Criminal Procedure Amendment Act No 11:

Commenced: 20 August 1976

21 August 1976

The leaders of seven of the country's nine black homelands i.e. all except Chiefs Matanzima (Transkei) and Mangope (Bophuthatswana) meet in Johannesburg to review the political situation and issue a joint statement of appeals, demands and recommendations.

23 August - 25 August 1976

A three-day strike is observed in Soweto by between 150,000 and 200,000 workers.

23 August 1976

An Athlone High school student statement is made condemning police brutality, inferior education, segregation laws and the plight of the detainees. The police change tactics and start going into schools to seek confrontation and to break the youths' spirit.

24 August - 27 August 1976

Violent ethnic clashes between Zulus and others, involving circa 10,000 blacks in running fights cause chaos in Soweto which the police appear unable to control. Police collusion is alleged.

29 August 1976

Speaking at a ceremony to mark his tenth anniversary as Prime Minister, John Vorster admits that the country has problems, internationally and economically, but claims that these do not constitute a crisis. His remarks are strongly criticized by the opposition.

30 August 1976

About 600 students from five secondary schools march to Bontheuwel. On their way they are confronted by four riot squad vans. The students are peppered with tear gas and hide in a nearby house. The police flushed the backyard with tear gas to prevent exit.

September 1976

Government ministers repeatedly declare that there is no crisis, and that whatever concessions may be made to meet the demands of the blacks, the policy of separate development will be continued.

Unrest, disturbances and riots spread to Cape Town itself, with interaction with the police on 1, 2 and 7-8, 10-13 September. Sporadic outbreaks of violence continue to occur in Soweto and in central Johannesburg.

1 September 1976

About 2 000 Langa, Nyanga and Gugulethu students march without notice or publicity through the Cape Town CBD unhindered.

2 September 1976

The ban on public gatherings throughout the country is reimposed until 31 October 1976.

2 September 1976

The coloured students march to the city in the hope that they will also display a peaceful march. The police were prepared and close down the CBD. The tear gas they spray on students affects all working people there, who later are forced into the chaotic streets by the smell. The city marches continue to September 3 when police execute similar action as the previous day. It appears that the Cape Town revolt has passed the point were intimidation can force youth off the street.

3 September - 6 September 1976

Prime Minister Vorster flies to Zurich for talks with the United States Secretary of State, Dr. Henry Kissinger. The focus is on the conditions necessary for negotiations on independence for Namibia and for majority rule in Rhodesia.

4 September - 5 September 1976

The youth come out in the coloured townships. Schools, libraries and a magistrates court are set alight.

10 September 1976

The President of the Senate, Marais Viljoen, opening the 1976 Session of the Coloured Persons' Representative Council announces a number of government decisions aimed at removing obsolete practices and usages causing dissatisfaction among Coloured people.

13 September 1976

The Cillié Commission of Inquiry into the riots in Soweto on 16 June 1976 holds its first public hearing in Johannesburg. Evidence is taken on the extent of the damage and of casualties.

Speaking to the Transvaal Congress of the ruling National Party in Pretoria, the Prime Minister again rejects major changes in the country's race policies.

13 September - 15 September 1976

A second strike call in Soweto leads to absenteeism estimated at 75-80 per cent in Johannesburg.

14 September 1976

Security Police continue to arrest prominent members of the Coloured community. Several black journalists who covered the Soweto riots are also detained.

15 September - 16 September 1976

Some 200,000 Coloured workers stay away from work in the Cape Town area. The extent of the strike is unexpected and unprecedented.

17 September 1976

A total of sixty-five documents concerning the establishment of an independent Transkei are signed in Pretoria by the Prime Minister and Chief Kaiser Matanzima. Among them is a non-aggression pact, designed to come into force at independence on 26 October 1976.

20 September 1976

A seven-man delegation of Coloured leaders flies from Cape Town to Pretoria to meet the Prime Minister for discussions on the future of the Coloured community. They appeal to John Vorster for the immediate release of the Chairman of the Coloured Labour Party, the Rev. Allan Hendrickse, unsuccessfully.

23 September 1976

Renewed rioting breaks out in Johannesburg. The Minister of Information, Dr. Connie Mulder, warns of tougher measures, including the use of the army, to deal with the unrest. Four more black journalists are detained, bringing the total number of journalists held to thirteen, eleven of whom are black.

24 September 1976

A crucial meeting of the Coloured Cabinet Council is boycotted by the Labour Party.

29 September 1976

In the Cape Town Supreme Court a British journalist, David Rabkin, his wife and a university lecturer, Jeremy Cronin, are sentenced to ten, one, and seven years' imprisonment respectively for offences under the Terrorism and Internal Security Acts to which they have pleaded guilty. They have advocated violence leading to insurrection. Since Mrs. Rabkin was expecting a baby, the court suspended eleven months of her twelve-month sentence and she returns to Britain with her new born daughter in October.

29 September 1976

General elections are held in the Transkei.

Voters go to the polls in the Transkeis pre-independence elections. The results are a foregone conclusion following the Transkei government's detention of eight leading opposition Democratic Party officers in July and August.

1 October 1976

France confirms that it is selling two new combat submarines to South Africa, to help it protect the oil route round the Cape in the face of the Soviet naval escalation in the Indian Ocean.

5 October 1976

The elected leaders in the Coloured Persons' Representative Council reject the government s emergency mini-budget and demand the summoning of an all-race National Convention to consider the country's future.

8 October 1976

At a seven-hour meeting with eight of the black 'homeland' leaders (i.e. all except Chief Matanzima, Transkei) Prime Minister Vorster declares there is no merit at all in the idea of holding a round table conference to plan a new constitution.

A meeting is held between John Vorster and eight 'homeland' leaders to discuss the unrest which has left at least three-hundred-and-forty dead, around two-thousand injured and hundreds under arrest. He rejects their demands for a multi-racial constitution and the release of black leaders in detention, This failure precipitates a move towards a common political front between traditional leaders and radical black students to fight for freedom.

15 October 1976

The results of the Transkei general elections are announced. The ruling Transkei National Independence Party (TNIP) win sixty-nine of the seventy-five election seats in the new National Assembly.

17 October 1976

The township of Soweto flares into violence again. An estimated 75,000 Pounds Sterling damage is caused. Incidents are also reported from Cape Town, Pretoria and Krugersdorp.

20 October 1976

Republic of Transkei Constitution Act No 15:

Created a Transkei Constitution.

Commenced: 20 October 1976

21 October 1976

The Minister of Justice J. Kruger says that 697 people are being held for security reasons: 123 under the Internal Security Act; 217 under the Terrorism Act; thirty-four are jailed for their protection as witnesses; 323 are held for cases pending in relation to public security.

22 October 1976

Teachers and pupils are arrested at the Morris lsaacson High School in Soweto.

24 October 1976

Further trouble erupts at a funeral in Soweto when a crowd of 4,000 attacks police. Retaliatory fire causes deaths and injuries.

The authorities release the leader of the Coloured Labour Party, the Rev. Allan Hendrickse after holding him in prison for two months.

25 October 1976

Transkei is declared an independent state at midnight. South Africa formally divests itself of all sovereignty over Transkei. The new flag is raised and a 101 gun salute ushers in the new 'state'.

26 October 1976

At its opening session the Transkei National Assembly elects Paramount Chief B.J. Sigcau as the Transkei's first President.

26 October 1976

South Africa proclaimed the "independence" of one of the bantustans, the Transkei. On the same day the General Assembly rejected the declaration of independence as invalid, and called upon all governments to deny any form of recognition to Transkei or other bantustans.

26 October 1976

Transkei becomes the first independent homeland.

26 October 1976

Transkei becomes an independent homeland.

November 1976

Splits appear within the National Party between the 'verligte' (enlightened) academics, businessmen and MPs and the 'verkrampte' (conservatives) led by Dr. Andries Treurnicht.

End November:The inaugural conference of the Black Unity Front is held in Johannesburg. Formed after the abortive meeting between John Vorster and 'homeland' leaders on 8 October 1976, its aim is to group middle-class blacks into a moderate anti-apartheid system guided by a steering committee of urban blacks.

1 November 1976

A five-day strike called by militant students in the Soweto Students' Representative Council (SSRC) meets with only limited response.

6 November 1976

The General Assembly adopted a comprehensive "programme of action against apartheid" by Governments; specialised agencies and other intergovernmental organisations; and trade unions, churches, anti-apartheid and solidarity movements and other non-governmental organisations.

It established an Ad Hoc Committee to prepare a declaration on apartheid in sports and an international convention against apartheid in sports.

8 November 1976

Signs multilateral treaty, extending the International Sugar Agreement, 1973.

9 November 1976

The General Assembly adopted a comprehensive "programme of action against apartheid" by Governments, specialised agencies and other intergovernmental organisations, as well as trade unions, churches, anti-apartheid and solidarity movements and other non-governmental organisations.

It established an Ad Hoc Committee to prepare a declaration on apartheid in sports and an international convention against apartheid in sports.

11 November 1976

The United Nations General Assembly adopts nine resolutions against apartheid at the end of a two-and-a-half week debate on the South African question.

15 November - 15 June 1976 - 1979

In the period 15 November 1976 to 15 June 1979, 110 bombings by insurgents occurred.

16 November 1976

President Perez of Venezuela announces in New York that he has ordered the severance of commercial relations with South Africa.

17 November 1976

Leaders of the three opposition parties meet in an attempt to form a united opposition front. Fundamental principles are laid down by Cohn Eglin, leader of the Progressive Reform Party (PRP). Chairman of the Steering Committee, former Transvaal Judge, K. Marais. presents a detailed draft constitution based on a federal structure.

18 November 1976

The Cillié Commission into recent riots is given a detailed account of the loss of life and damage to property in the Greater Cape Town area.

19 November 1976

Fourteen officials representing non-registered multiracial trade unions are reported to have been served with banning orders. Two main bodies are targeted: the Johannesburg based Urban Training Programme (UTP) and the Co-ordinating Council (TUACC) with a membership of more than 60,000.

23 November 1976

Eight more banning orders are served, mostly on white students connected with black labour organizations.

24 November 1976

School pupils and students from Soweto who have fled to Botswana, Swaziland and Lesotho to escape continuous Security Police searches for ringleaders of unrest, have rejected the government's amnesty offer which expired on 22 November 1976. An estimated 700 have fled since June, more than 500 of them to Botswana, whose government has requested international assistance in the matter.

27 November 1976

The arrest of five people, detained under the Terrorism Act, coincides with the Security Police search of the Johannesburg headquarters of the Christian Institute and the South African Council of Churches.

30 November 1976

700 people were in detention by the end of 30 November.

December 1976

Both the United Party and the Progressive Reform Party formally approve the Marais Committee's proposals as a basis for a constitution.

Serious fighting and rioting break out in the Cape Town townships of Guguletu, Nyanga and Langa, peak periods being the first week and Christmas weekend. Youths and migrant workers clash; deaths, destruction and arrests follow.

The accused SASO (South African Students' Organisation) and BPC (Black People's Convention) leaders of the September 1974, "Viva Frelimo" rallies were sentenced to terms on Robben Island, however the freedom movement was at its strongest.

2 December 1976

At the end of an eight-month trial a University lecturer, Eddie Webster and four white students are acquitted of all charges against them under the Suppression of Communism and Unlawful Organizations Act.

3 December 1976

QwaQwa: Education Act No 4:

Commenced: 3 December 1976

15 December 1976

The South African Institute of Race Relations reports that 433 people are known to be still in custody. According to their sources, these comprise fifty-six school children, seventy-two university students, twenty-six student leaders and office-bearers of the South African Students' Organization and related organizations, twenty-five members of other Black Consciousness organizations, sixteen churchmen, thirty-five teachers and lecturers, fifteen journalists, sixty state witnesses, six trade unionists, thirteen former political prisoners, one member of the Coloured Labour Party and eighty-one who have no known connection with political organizations. Of this total, 102 were in preventative detention, with no charges pending. In addition, according to the SAIRR, 144 people are under banning orders, restricting their movements and prohibiting them from attending gatherings.

16 December 1976

Calls for judicial inquiries into the death of detainees in police custody are made by the South African Institute of Race Relations, backed by Cohn Eghin, leader of the Progressive Reform Party (PRP) and by Sonny Leon, leader of the Coloured community, who addresses his request to the International Commission of jurists in Geneva.

17 December 1976

The government confirms that guerrillas are being trained for operations in South Africa from bases in Botswana and Mozambique. Minister of Justice Kruger names three South African exiles in London as the men behind the campaign: Joe Slovo, Moses Kotane and Ronnie Kasrils.

20 December 1976

South Africa:Signs multilateral treaty on the international regulations for the prevention of collisions at sea, 1972.

21 December 1976

The lengthy trial ends of nine black nationalist student leaders, first detained by Security Police in October 1974, following a pro-FRELIMO Durban rally. They are found guilty under the Terrorism Act and sentenced to periods of imprisonment, three for six years and six for five years.

26 December 1976

South Africa proclaimed the independence of one of the bantustans, the Transkei, independent. On the same day the General Assembly rejected the "sham" declaration of independence.

29 December 1976

The Minister of Bantu Education announces moves towards the introduction of free and compulsory education for blacks. This is the fifth concession to black demands since the Soweto riots of 16 June 1976. It has also reversed the Afrikaans ruling in schools, suspended the 'homeland citizenship' requirement for blacks leasing houses in townships, introduced a home ownership scheme and agrees in principle to give increased powers to Bantu Councils in black areas.

Police announce the release of the last of the 113 detainees held under Section 10 (preventive detention) of the Internal Security Act. Restriction orders are placed on six of those released, including Winnie Mandela.

31 December 1976

In his New Year's Eve address the Prime Minister warns the country that South Africa will have to face the Communist onslaught in Southern Africa alone.

An official of the Department of Justice claims that all detainees held in preventive detention under the Internal Security Act have been released.

The prohibition of public gatherings (under the Riotous Assemblies Act) is extended to 31 March 1977, and thereafter to 30 September 1977.

31 December 1976

Then Prime Minister BJ Vorster says: "The storm has not struck yet. We are only experiencing the whirlwinds that go before it."

Winnie Mandela is elected to the Black Parents Committee. Mass detentions follows and she is one of six executive members of the Federation of Black Women to be detained. She is released and banned again.

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. Return to the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory site.