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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

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1979

Sisulu's daughter Lindiwe marries Xolile Guma in Swaziland.

Sisulu's son Zwelakhe sentenced to 9 months imprisonment in Thami Mkhanazi trial.

1979 is declared the year of the Spear, a tribute to the unbroken struggle since the Battle of Isandlwana of 1879.

Venda independence.

Education and Training Act No 90:

Repealed the Bantu (Black) Education Act No 47 of 1953 and the Bantu Special Education Act No 24 of 1964.

Commenced: 1 January 1980

IN FORCE (as amended by Educators Employment Act No 138 of 1994): EDUCATION.

Births and Deaths Registration Act No 20:

Specified persons who could be registered as Transkeian citizens by birth.

Commenced: 3 October 1980

KaNgwane: Public Services Act No 3:

Commenced: 28 March 1980

Repealed by s 37 of the Public Service Act No 5 of 1989.

KwaZulu: Financial Regulations for Tribal and Community Authorities Act No 7:

Commenced: 15 February 1980

1979 - 1990

Commission of Inquiry into Labour Legislation

Mandate: To inquire into, report on and make recommendations in connection with the following matters:

a)Industrial Conciliation Act, 1956

b)Bantu Labour Relations Regulation Act, 1953

c)Wage Act, 1957

d)Factories, Machinery and Building Work Act, 1941

e)Shops and Offices Act, 1964

f)Apprenticeship Act, 1944

g)Training of Artisans Act, 1951

h)Bantu Building Workers Act, 1951

i)Electrical Wiremen and Contractors' Act, 1939

j)Workmen's Compensation Act, 1941

k)Unemployment Insurance Act, 1966

l)Registration for Employment Act, 1945

The mandate was extended to include:

m)Mines and Works Act, 1956 or any other act administered by the Department of Mines.

Date of Report: 1979/1990

The report was made in six parts (see separate references below)

Chair: WIEHAHN, N.E.

Ref: Part 1: RP 47-79 (E&A)

Part 2: RP 38-80 (E&A)

Parts 3 & 4: RP 82-80 (E), RP 87-80 (A)

Part 5: RP 27-81(E&A)

Part 6: RP 28-81 (E&A).

1979

Commission of Inquiry into the Riots at Soweto and Elsewhere from 16 June 1976 to 28 February 1977

Mandate: To inquire into and report on the riots at Soweto and other places in the Republic during June 1976, and their causes.

Date of Report: 1979

Chair: CILLIË, P.M.

Ref: RP 55/1980 (E), RP 106/1979 (A)

FOSATU was formally constituted in April with 12 affiliates representing 45 000 workers.

The Wiehahn Commission of Enquiry into labour legislation recommended the legalisation of African trade unions. This led to the government amending the Industrial Conciliation Act to put this recommendation into effect. The Riekert Commission recommended the limited easing of restrictions on the mobility of urban workers.

335 people were charged in terms of Section 16 of the Immorality Act in 1976.

The boycott of Fattis and Monis products in May in support of the Food and Cannings Workers Union was the first consumer boycott since the late fifties.

The number of strikes in 1976, 1977 and 1978 were 245,90 and 160 respectively.

The Soweto Civic Association and the Port Elizabeth Black Civic Organisation were formed in 1979.

108 911 families were moved in terms of the Group Areas Act up until the end of 1979.

The South African Allied Workers Union was formed.

The Azanian Students Organisation (AZASO) was formed in November.

The Education and Training Act is passed to replace the Bantu Education Act of 1953. African education is now under the Department of Education and Training (DET).

The Congress of South African Students (COSAS) forms.

8 January 1979

Signs agreement with Lesotho on issuing of notes and coin.

13 January 1979

A clash between police and suspected guerrillas is reported near the Botswana border. Botswana denies that it is being used as a springboard for attacks on his neighbours despite this being the third shooting incident in the Northern Transvaal with the guerrillas apparently coming from Botswana.

The government is reported to have frozen the South African assets of the former Information Secretary, Dr. Eschel Roodie, and to have seized secret funds deposited in private accounts outside the country.

24 January 1979

The former Minister of Information, Dr. Connie Mulder, resigns his seat in parliament at the insistence of the Prime Minister, P.W. Botha. Announcing his decision, Dr. Mulder claims that his conscience is clear and decisions made were in the interests of the country.

The Transvaal Attorney-General, Jan Nothling, states that General Hendrick van den Bergh, former head of BOSS, will not be prosecuted for disparaging remarks made about the Erasmus Commission, since this would involve the publication of evidence, not in the national interest. This decision is strongly criticized by the opposition parties.

2 February 1979

Opening Parliament, State President Vorster promises South Africa a new deal, new economic and financial measures and a new constitutional dispensation.

5 February 1979

The official opposition Progressive Federal Party refuses to congratulate John Vorster on his appointment as State President on the grounds that not all the evidence of the Erasmus Commission has been made public. PFP leader Cohn Eglin describes the real tragedy of the information scandal as the immobilization of government and the diversion of attention away from the real problems facing the country.

6 February 1979

In reply to the opposition's motion Prime Minister P.W. Botha offers to resign if opposition politicians can show that either he or his cabinet were aware of the information scandal.

7 February 1979

Figures released by the South African Institute of Race Relations indicate a fall of twenty per cent in political trials in 1978, compared with 1977. Authorities are showing increasing recourse to preventive detention rather than administrative banning of opponents.

19 February 1979

The former Transkei Prime Minister, Chief Kaiser Matanzima, is elected President of Transkei. His brother, Chief George Matanzima, is elected leader of the ruling Transkei Congress Party (TCP).

21 February 1979

George Matanzima becomes Premier.

26 February 1979

Mozambique and South Africa sign a railway cooperation agreement.

4 March 1979

In reaction to newspaper reports, Prime Minister P.W. Botha states through the media, that he will not be 'blackmailed into a deal with anybody' and challenges Dr. Rhoodie to return to South Africa.

Iran breaks off diplomatic, political, economic and military ties with South Africa, and will no longer supply oil to this country.

6 March 1979

The trial of eighteen suspected PAC members which began in December 1977 and has already taken over 100 court sessions, resumes in Bethal. The defendants face two main charges under the Terrorism Act, and a number of alternative counts under other legislation.

6 March - 7 March 1979

General Hendrik van den Bergh has a lengthy meeting with Dr. E. Rhoodie in Paris and indicates afterwards that it has been agreed that Dr. Rhoodie will not divulge details of his tapes to the media.

8 March 1979

Foreign Minister 'Pik' Botha, says in Switzerland that South Africa will consider adopting a more neutral position in world affairs and become pro-African rather than pro-Western.

9 March 1979

The government gives official notice that it has refused to allow the Herstigte Nasionale Party to he registered as a political party, in terms of an amendment to the Electoral Act made in 1978. The party's leader, Jaap Marais, indicates that the party will continue to put up candidates for election, hut as independents.

9 March 1979

Republic of Bophuthatswana Constitution Further Amendment Act No 21:

Provided for the detention of individuals 'in the interests of national security or public safety' (s 12(g)).

Commenced: 9 March 1979.

14 March 1979

On his return from Paris, General Hendrik van den Bergh has his own passport impounded on orders from the Minister of the Interior, and the Prime Minister makes it clear that the General had no government authority to negotiate with Dr. Rhoodie.

15 March 1979

Four people, believed to be members of the ANC, are arrested in Gaborone, Botswana, and charged with the illegal possession of explosives and firearms. They receive sentences of from two to four-and-a-half years imprisonment.

15 March 1979

Dr. Rhoodie reiterates that he possesses documentary evidence of secret projects involving the transfer of funds to major political figures in several Western countries. He denies being guilty of any criminal offence.

16 March 1979

A warrant is issued for Dr. Rhoodie's arrest on a charge of fraud, with an alternative charge of theft.

The terms of reference of the Erasmus Commission are extended to investigate and evaluate, by 31 March 1979, the government's political culpability. The Prime Minister also authorizes that appointment, from 1 June 1979, of an Advocate-General who will investigate and report to Parliament on any allegation, supported by a sworn affidavit, of corruption on malpractices by the government.

17 March 1979

It is reported that during February 1979, Dr. Eschel Rhoodie has claimed in interviews in Quito, Ecador, that he was the initiator of the South African government's policy of detente conducted in 1974-76. He subsequently threatens to release forty-one tape recordings containing details of secret South African propaganda and security operations.

18 March 1979

The government admits responsibility for the death of the black leader, Joseph Mdluli on 19 March 1976 and agree to pay damages to his family. A claim for loss of support, against the Minister of Justice and Police, will be settled out of court.

20 March 1979

Former South African Supreme Court judge, Judge J.F. Ludorf, claims he has evidence that two hired German killers were paid to murder the former South African representative to the International Monetary Fund, Dr. Robert Smit and his wife. The Prime Minister's office states that there is no connection between the Smit murders and irregularities in the former Information Department, but speculation continues.

22 March 1979

President Vorster, in a lengthy statement, challenges Dr. Rhoodie to release any document which may implicate him in the Information affair; emphasizes that the question is not whether state money has been available for secret projects, but whether that money has been misused; denies he was informed of the secret funding of 'The Citizen' and rejects as contemptible Dr. Rhoodie's attempt to drag Minister Horwood into the affair.

The Prime Minister, in a cautiously worded statement issued by his office, says the Cabinet knew of secret projects, but not about the state funding of 'The Citizen', or of irregularities that have taken place. He says he has undertaken to resign only if it can be proved that members of his Cabinet were aware of one specific project - the funding of The Citizen - before he came into power in September 1978.

President Vorster's statement is immediately followed by calls for his resignation by the opposition parties on the grounds that he has violated the fundamental constitutional principle that the State President acts in political matters only on the advice of his Cabinet, and that he has pronounced on evidence material to the Erasmus Commission.

23 March 1979

The Prime Minister defends John Vorster's statement, denying that a constitutional crisis has been created.

The two major opposition parties demand the immediate resignation of President Vorster because of his intervention in the Information scandal, which is said to have created a major constitutional crisis.

25 March 1979

Dr. Connie Mulder, in effect, accuses President Vorster of lying and states that the decision to found and finance 'The Citizen' was known to him from the start. He provides precise dates and times of meetings concerning the Information Department's secret projects, from 23 October 1974 onwards, held in the Prime Minister's office.

26 March 1979

The opposition moves to impeach President Vorster for his controversial intervention. However it requires the signature of thirty Members of Parliament to convene a special debate and the opposition parties can only Convene twenty-seven votes.

28 March 1979

It is disclosed that summaries of Dr. Rhoodie's tape recordings have already been made available to a syndicate including the British Broadcasting Corporation and the United States National Broadcasting Corporation.

28 March 1979

The World Campaign against Military and Nuclear Collaboration with South Africa was launched in London, with the support of the UN Special Committee against Apartheid. Several Heads of State and Government were its patrons and Abdul S. Minty its Director.

30 March 1979

The draft Constitution is published. It is widely criticized and the government decides not to introduce it in the current Parliamentary session. Instead it is now submitted to a Parliamentary Select Committee.

The Foreign Minister 'Pik' Botha, whose portfolio now includes the South African Information Services, promises to give opposition leaders full access to all current secret projects. He has decided to terminate, with effect from 1 April 1979, all confidential and sensitive projects that do not serve the national interests in the most effective manner.

1 April 1979

Gazankulu: Black Administration Amendment Act No 4:

Commenced: 1 April 1980

1 April 1979

Gazankulu: Criminal Procedure Amendment Act No 7:

Commenced: 1 April 1980

2 April 1979

In an interim report, the Erasmus Commission exonerates P.W. Botha and all members at' his government from having had any prior knowledge of irregularities in the former Department of Information. The Commission's findings are the result of a special two-week inquiry, focussing on whether members of the Cabinet knew of the funding of 'The Citizen' before 26 September 1978.

4 April 1979

Dr. Andries Treurnicht, the leader of the National Party in the Transvaal, gives Dr. Connie Mulder an ultimatum to accept the findings of the Erasmus Commission by noon on 5 April 1979, failing which he will be expelled from the party. Dr. Mulder states he cannot accept the report.

5 April 1979

The White Paper on Defence warns that the military threat against South Africa is intensifying at an alarming rate. A total national security strategy is being developed to counter the 'total onslaught'. This involves a major increase in naval defence spending, the overhaul of the air defence system and the creation of a parachute brigade.

6 April 1979

Solomon Mahlangu is hanged in Pretoria.

6 April 1979

Dr. Connie Mulder is expelled from the National Party over his role in the Information Department scandal.

9 April 1979

The Botswana government is building a camp to house over 5,000 student refugees from South Africa at Molepolole, thirty-five km. west of Gaborone. This will be a country settlement and not a training camp.

Signs agreement with Portugal on mutual fishery relations,

11 April 1979

The home of the leader of the opposition Progressive Federal Party, Cohn Eglin, is attacked. The attack follows a pattern characteristic of the secret society known as 'Scorpio'.

12 April 1979

Prime Minister, P.W. Botha, announces that three members of the staff of the United States Embassy in South Africa, have been given a week to leave the country. They have photographed sensitive military installations by a secret camera installed in a diplomatic aircraft.

19 April 1979

In a major policy statement, the Prime Minister declares that in future, South Africa will be guided solely by its own interests, and those of the Southern African region.

The American government has supplied no reasonable explanation or apology for the photographing of the uranium enrichment Pehindaba plant. Instead they have acted against two South African attaches in the United States.

The International Press Institute (IPI) appoints an official observer in South Africa, Joel Mervis, to report on matters affecting the conduct and freedom of the press. He will observe court actions and Press Council complaints brought against editors, journalists and publishers, and their outcome.

20 April 1979

The Federation of South African Trade Unions (FOSATU) is founded. It aims to be a national, non-racial, umbrella body co-ordinating South Africa's black trade union movements.

26 April 1979

Dr. Connie Mulder refused to give evidence before the Erasmus Commission, alleging it has declined to grant him a fair hearing.

27 April 1979

Internal Security Act No 32:

Empowered Government to declare an organisation unlawful and to control the distribution of publications. Meetings of more than twenty persons were declared unlawful unless authorised by the magistrate. This Act repealed the whole of the 1950 Internal Security Act [SA] and related Acts, with the exception of the 1960 Unlawful Organisations Act which declared that any organisation which threatened public safety was unlawful. Included in this category were the ANC and the PAC (SRR 1979: 312).

Commenced: 27 April 1979

Sections 27-9 inclusive repealed by the State of Emergency Act No 86 of 1995 [SA]

1 May 1979

The first interim report of the Wiehahn Commission is tabled in Parliament. its recommendations include registration of black trade unions, including migrant workers, abolition of the principle of statutory job reservation; retention of the closed shop; the creation of a National Manpower Commission and an Industrial Court to resolve industrial litigation. The report is welcomed in trade union and business circles.

2 May 1979

The Minister for Cooperation and Development, Dr. Piet Koornbof, announces that relevant urban black leaders will be consulted about the position of blacks outside the 'homelands'. His deputy, Dr. Willie Vosloo, announces the reversal of the government's policy on Alexandra Township: it will be renewed with the emphasis on high-density family housing rather than hostels.

The Minister of Labour, S.P. Botha, says that the government accepts the Wiehahn Report in principle, but some of its recommendations will have to be implemented with caution and care.

4 May 1979

In its final report the Erasmus Commission amends its interim report and states that President Vorster has to bear joint responsibility for continued irregularities in the former Department of Information while he was in office as Prime Minister. It exonerates P.W. Botha and the Minister of Finance, Senator Owen Horwood.

B.J. Vorster resigns from his position as State President. Marais Viljoen, the President of the Senate, is sworn in as acting State President.

8 May 1979

The recommendations of the Riekert Commission are tabled. These include more black involvement in government administration boards; active promotion of home ownership; wider opportunities for black traders in white areas; dismantling of the Department of Plural Relations; streamlining of recruitment procedures in 'homelands'; curfew on blacks in white areas to be lifted; scrapping of random pass arrests.

11 May 1979

Eleven Soweto school pupil leaders are convicted of sedition and sentenced in Johannesburg to terms of imprisonment, most of which are suspended, since the accused have already been held for long periods. The charges arise from the June 1976 demonstrations.

The executive of the South African Confederation of Labour (SACL) approves the government's White Paper accepting the Wiehahn Report by thirteen voters to eleven.

17 May 1979

The Advocate General Bill is introduced by L. Muller, Minister of Transport, against strong opposition from the Progressive Federal Party and the New Republic Party. The Bill, resulting from the Information Department scandal, will prevent anyone publishing or broadcasting material relating to the alleged misappropriation of state funds without the written permission of an Advocate General who will be specially appointed. The holding of inquiries by the Advocate General will be secret. This 'totalitarian measure' and 'press gag' is widely condemned.

21 May 1979

Signs multilateral treaty pertaining to the South East Atlantic fisheries agreement on the total catch quota of hake in 1979.

30 May 1979

Following fierce opposition to the Advocate General's Bill, the government refers it to a Parliamentary Select Committee - on which it will have an overwhelming majority. The official opposition series of amendments have little chance of success.

June 1979

David Sibeko assassinated.

June 1979

In June the Congress of South Africon Students (COSAS) was formed.

1 June 1979

KwaZulu: Criminal Procedure Act No 14:

Commenced: 1 June 1979

6 June 1979

In the by-election at Randfontein (formerly Dr. C. Mulder's seat) the National Party candidate wins, but with a very much reduced majority over the Herstigte Nasionale Party.

7 June 1979

S.P. Botha introduces the second reading of the Industrial Conciliation Amendment Bill, under which a national manpower commission is to he set up, the registration of trade unions and employers' organizations is to be regulated and safeguards against inter-racial competition are to be repealed, except in certain industries. The Bill is opposed by the PFP and by various trade unions, including the multiracial Trade Union Council of South Africa.

8 June 1979

State Land Disposal Act No 23:

Set out mechanisms for the disposal of state land.

Commenced: 8 June 1979

12 June 1979

A member of the three-man Presidential Council of the PAC, David M. Sibeko, dies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, after being shot the previous night. Mr. Sibeko was Director of the PAC's Foreign Affairs and formerly PAC representative at the United Nations in New York. His assassination shocks political exiles.

13 June 1979

Marais Viljoen, former President of the Senate and acting State President, is elected State President by members of both Houses of Parliament and is sworn in on 19 June 1979.

14 June 1979

An amendment to the Inquest Act prevents any reporting on a suspicious death before an inquest. Its intention is to discourage publicity surrounding deaths in detention. in the same week amendments are gazetted to the Police Act curbing the reporting of allegations of brutality and maladministration in the Police Force.

Cabinet changes are announced by Prime Minister, P.W. Botha.

Botswana authorities announce the arrests in Gaborone of nine black dissidents in connection with the assassination of Mr. Sibeko.

In the face of widespread protest the Prime Minister announces that provisions in the Advocate General Bill preventing the press from publishing details of the misuse of government funds, without the permission of a government official, have been dropped for the present.

16 June 1979

Six PAC members, all from Itumbi Camp, Southern Tanzania, appear before a magistrate's court in Dar es Salaam, charged with the murder of PAC leader, David Sibeko.

17 June 1979

The government's White Paper on the Riekert Commission rejects two crucial recommendations - that employers of illegal labour, and not workers, be prosecuted, and that the 72-hour time limit for 'illegal' blacks in prescribed areas be abolished.

19 June 1979

JT. Kruger, formerly Minister of Justice, Police and Prisons, is elected President of the Senate on the nomination of P.W. Botha.

20 June 1979

The government's White Paper on the Riekert Report accepts that existing laws enforcing racial separation may have to be reviewed and that greater mobility of urban blacks between different urban areas is desirable. However, certain restrictions will remain in force.

21 June 1979

The Information Service of South Africa Special Account Bill is passed against the votes of the opposition parties. Under it, the unauthorized expenditure by the former Department of Information is accepted as a statutory accomplished fact.

22 June 1979

The Advocate-General Bill is passed in amended form against PFP opposition.

Signs amendment to multilateral treaty on endangered species of flora and fauna.

26 June 1979

South Africa's longest political trial ends in Bethal, Transvaal with seventeen defendents sharing a total of 147 years' imprisonment. They were charged under the Terrorism Act with reviving the banned PAC, sending people out of South Africa for insurgency training and inciting riots in Kagiso township in June 1976.

26 June 1979

Mr. Zeph Mothopeng and 16 others were sentenced to long terms of imprisonment on charges of reviving the PAC and sending people outside the country for military training.

28 June 1979

Dr. C. Mulder, together with two other former National Party members, Cas Greyling and Sarel Reinecke, and four other men announce the formation of an Action Front for National Priorities with the aim of forming a new right-wing party whose ideological position would lie between those of the National Party and the Herstigte Nasionale Party.

16 July 1979

The Secretary of Health announces that all senior doctors in the Public Service, irrespective of race, will in future receive equal salaries.

19 July 1979

Dr. E. Rhoodie is arrested at the French Riviera resort Juan les Pins. He will appear in Aix-en-Provence for extradition proceedings on 31 July 1979, following the receipt of extradition documents from South Africa.

26 July 1979

The annual conference of the South African Council of Churches decides that some restrictions on interracial contact in South Africa are so objectionable that they cannot be obeyed with a clear conscience.

The Schlebush Commission investigating a future constitution for South Africa, meets for the first time. The Chairman, A.L. Schlebusch, Minister of Justice and of the Interior, says that the Commission views the government's previous constitutional proposals as merely one of the sets of proposals under consideration, that be is happy to hear evidence from blacks, and that the commission will hold most of its hearings in public.

29 July 1979

The government is reported to have paid the family of the Black Consciousness leader, Steve Biko, R65,000 in settlement of claims for his death in custody in 1977. The Minister of Police, Louis le Grange, says the state is not admitting liability and the file on the Biko affair has now been closed.

3 August 1979

Police Act No 16:

Granted the police further powers with regard to search and seizure.

Commenced: 3 August 1979

7 August 1979

The Prime Minister, P.W. Botha, draws up a comprehensive national strategy, reappraising the apartheid policy and reiterating his aim of establishing a constellation of independent African states.

13 August 1979

The leader of two independent 'homelands'. Chief K. Matanzima and President Mangope of Bophuthatswana, support Mr. Botha's call for a constellation of states.

15 August 1979

Addressing the National Party's Natal Provincial Congress in Durban, the Prime Minister puts forward a twelve-point plan for achieving a permanent solution to the country's multi-racial problems.

22 August 1979

Dr. Eschel Rboodie is extradited from France and handed over to the South African authorities. He appears briefly in Pretoria's Supreme Court charged with fraud and theft.

29 August 1979

The National Party wins two uncertain victories in by-elections, with sharply reduced majorities in both seats.

30 August 1979

Dr. Connie Mulder is acquitted and discharged on charges of contempt by the Pretoria Supreme Court. Justice W.G. Boshoff rules that there is no evidence that the questions Dr. Mulder has been called to answer before the Erasmus Commission, had any relevance to the Commission's mandate at that time.

31 August 1979

P.W. Botha becomes the first South African Prime Minister to visit Soweto. His visit includes talks with the Soweto Community Council during which he promises that Soweto debts, totalling some R9m. will be written off.

September 1979

The inaugural conference of Azapo was held in September.

3 September 1979

Dr. Frederick van Zyl Slabbert is chosen as the Leader of the Opposition Progressive Federal Party (PFP) in succession to Cohn Eghin, who is elected the party's National Chairman.

6 September 1979

The Minister of Cooperation and Development, 'Piet' Koornhof, says that blacks in urban areas will not have political rights in the white political system but only in the 'homelands'.

12 September 1979

South Africa's new Ambassador to the United Nations, Adrian Eksteen, presents his credentials to the Secretary-General, Dr. Kurt Waldheim.

12 September - 13 September 1979

At midnight the Republic of Venda becomes independent. Chief Mphephu will become Venda's first President.

13 September 1979

South Africa proclaimed the "independence" of the bantustan of Venda.

13 September 1979

Republic of Venda Constitution Act No 9:

Provided for a Venda Constitution.

Commenced: 13 September 1979

Venda becomes an independent homeland.

19 September 1979

The Chairman of the Commission of Inquiry into Consolidation of the 'Homelands', Hennie van der Walt, speaking at the National Party's Transvaal Congress, states that the proposals for redistribution of land will go beyond the provisions of the 1936 Land Act, hitherto regarded by the government as immutable.

21 September 1979

The United Nations Security Council condemns the establishment of Venda as totally invalid.

25 September 1979

The Minister of Manpower Utilisation, Fanie Botha, tells the Conference of the Federated Chamber of Industries that migrant workers from the 'homelands' are to be allowed to join registered black trade unions. An announcement is gazetted on 28 September 1979.

26 September 1979

The Prime Minister tells the Cape Congress of the National Party that he is prepared to consider constructive suggestions for revision of the section of the Immorality Act which forbids miscegenation and of the Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act.

27 September 1979

The Minister of Community Development, Marais Steyn, announces that restaurants may open to all races without having to apply for special permits.

30 September 1979

AZAPO elects new leaders at its first Congress, near Johannesburg. The 200 delegates choose as leader, Curtis Nkondo, a former Soweto teacher who resigned in protest against the separate school system for blacks. AZAPO declares itself opposed to all institutions created by the government and to the principle of ethnically-based institutions and advocates the creation of a single Parliamentary state.

1 October 1979

Industrial Conciliation Amendment Act No 94:

Permitted certain blacks, excluded under the 1953 Act, to join unions. However, the exclusion of migrant workers and frontier commuters remained in force until it was lifted in the Government Gazette No 6679 of 28 September 1979 (SRR 1979: 285). This Act prohibited the existence of mixed trade unions (SRR 1979: 281) and repealed s 77 of the 1956 Act (see above) regarding job reservation (SRR 1979: 282).

Commenced: 1 October 1979

Repealed by the Labour Relations Act No 66 of 1995.

2 October 1979

The South African Barbarians rugby team completes its controversial tour of Britain with minimal disruption but against a background of condemnation from African and Commonwealth countries.

3 October 1979

The results of four Parliamentary by-elections show a decided swing to the Herstigte Nasionale Party and low percentage polls. The National Party retains its seats, but by very reduced majorities.

8 October 1979

Dr. Eschel Rhoodie is found guilty on five of seven charges of fraud or theft involving R63,000 of secret government funds and sentenced to six years imprisonment. He is granted bail the following day.

10 October 1979

The PAC appoints V. Make as its new chairman and H. Isaacs to replace the assassinated Mr. Sibeko as its Director of Foreign Affairs.

26 October 1979

The General Assembly requested the Secretary-General to conduct an investigation into reports concerning a nuclear explosion by South Africa in the area of the Indian Ocean and the South Atlantic on 22 September.

November - December 1979

Black workers in the motor industry are involved in strike action in connection with demands for recognition by independent black trade unions.

1 November 1979

Accepts Article VII of General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade.

2 November 1979

The government announces a plan to allow white and black businessmen to form partnerships as part of a strategy to draw blacks into free enterprise.

7 November 1979

Signs amendment to a multilateral treaty on plant protection.

The former Information Minister, Dr. Connie Mulder is elected leader of the newly-formed National Conservative Party.

The National Party loses its Edenvale, Johannesburg seat to the PFP, its first by-election defeat since it came to power in 1948. In three other disputed constituencies - Durbanville, Worcester and Eshowe - the National Party retains its seats but with reduced majorities.

9 November 1979

A meeting between the Prime Minister, P.W. Botha and Coloured leaders for preliminary discussion on the constitutional future of the Coloured people ends in deadlock. The Labour Party leaders refuse to give evidence before the all-white Schlebusch Constitutional Commission.

12 November 1979

The Minister for Coloured Relations, S.J.M. Steyn, states that no elections are planned after the current five-year term of the elected Coloured Representative Council (CRC) expires on 31 March 1980. He indicates that the CRC may be replaced by a nominated interim council, pending new constitutional arrangements.

15 November 1979

The trial of twelve members of the banned ANC in Pietermaritzburg ends with the death sentence for one defendant and a total of 173 years' imprisonment for the others. Following an international campaign for clemency, the death sentence on James Mange is overruled by the Bloemfontein Appeal Court, on 11 September 1980, and he is sentenced to twenty years' imprisonment.

22 November 1979

The Prime Minister, P.W. Botha, outlines a project for a constellation of states to some 250 leading businessmen. Its objective would be to improve the lives of all peoples in the Southern African region.

Signs multilateral GAIT protocol supplementary to Geneva 1979 protocol.

30 November 1979

334 people were detained.

5 December 1979

The Prime Minister announces the appointment of a Commission of Inquiry into the reporting of defence matters, to be headed by Justice MT. Steyn. The Commission is to inquire into and make recommendations on the dividing line between the rights of the media to inform and the right of the public to be informed on the one hand, and the interests of the security of the state on the other.

5 December 1979

South Africa was expelled from the annual General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency, meeting in New Delhi.

5 December 1979

South Africa was expelled from the annual conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency meeting in New Delhi.

6 December 1979

The Prime Minister announces a reorganization of the governmental administrative structure, under which the number of central executive institutions is to be reduced from thirty-nine to twenty-two, with responsibilities being distributed between eighteen ministries.

10 December 1979

The government relaxes the Group Areas Act permit system on a wide range of shared facilities.

The Minister of Community Development announces that blacks will in future be admitted to certain amenities previously reserved for whites, including libraries, private hospitals, restaurants, theatres, concerts, exhibitions, and drive-in cinemas.

11 December 1979

Alexandre Moumbaris, who was serving a twelve-year sentence, convicted under the Terrorism Act, escapes from Pretoria Central, and succeeds in reaching Zambia. Two white academics from the University of Cape Town, escape with him.

12 December 1979

Signs agreement with Lesotho on the issue and use of a road camp site on Cobham State Forest.

14 December 1979

KwaZulu: Black Authorities Amendment Act No 6:

Commenced: 14 December 1979

18 December 1979

Signs multilateral treaty on import and licensing procedure (GAIT).

Signs multilateral treaty relating to bovine meat (GATT).

24 December 1979

The Security Police detains the President and six Executive Members of the recently formed Congress of South African Students (COSAS).

29 December 1979

South Africa:Signs multilateral treaty on dairy arrangements (GAIT).

Source: http://www.sahistory.org.za/pages/chronology/main-chronology-1970s.html

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.