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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

1953. Public Safety Act No 3

This act was passed in response to the Defiance Campaign of 1952 (instigated by Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu and others). See under the CRIMINAL LAW AMENDMENT ACT of 1953.

It "included a provision that empowered the government to declare a state of emergency in any or every part of the country [South West Africa included] and to rule by proclamation" (Thompson 1990: 199). According to Section 3, "The Governor-General [later, State-President] may... make such regulations as appear to him to be necessary or expedient for providing for the safety of the public, or the maintenance of public order and for making adequate provision for terminating such emergency or for dealing with any circumstances which in his opinion have arisen or are likely to arise as a result of such emergency" (quoted by Dyzenhaus 1991: 159).

Moreover, any law issued during a state of emergency "could be made retrospective for four days to cover any emergency action taken by the police. The emergency regulations could suspend any act of Parliament, with a few exceptions. If the justice minister or administrator of South West Africa deemed it necessary, they could declare a state of emergency but the governor general had to approve their action within ten days" (Riley 1991: 35).

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.