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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

Banning of certain A.N.C. leaders and meetings

On 27 May 1959, just prior to a national conference of the A.N.C. which was to be held in Johannesburg, a notice was served on ex-Chief Luthuli under the Suppression of Communism and Riotous Assemblies Acts, banning him for five years from attending any gatherings in the Union or South-Wcst Africa, and ordering him during this period not to leave the rural Lower Tugcla district of Natal, where his home is. The first order had immediate effect, while the second came into operation as from 2 June. Ex-Chief Luthuli was able to pay a quick visit to the Reef, but could naturally not attend the conference.

Prominent individuals of all racial groups made unsuccessful pleas to the Minister of Justice for the withdrawal o[ these banning orders. Mr. D. B. Molteno, Q.C., the President of the Institute of Race Relations, said, for example, "All the Union's people-not only the Africans-are fortunate that, at this time, a leader of Chief Luthuli's stature, and with such a record, is at the head of the African National Congress. . . . The Minister's action, by reason of its palpable injustice, can only have the gravest detrimental effects on the relations between the races".21

The A.N.C. had planned a mass protest meeting for 31 May, the day after its conference, at which ex-Chief Luthuli was to have been the main speaker. On 29 May the Chief Magistrate of Johannesburg, after consultation with the Minister of Justice and the police, banned the meeting under the Riotous Assemblies Act. The A.N.C. then moved the date of the meeting forward to 30 May, hurriedly preparing leaflets to advise the public of this change. However the Chief Magistrate issued a new banning order, prohibiting this meeting too.

Although the A.N.C. was permitted to continue with its own conference, this was raided by the police who seized documents relating to the proceedings, while detectives of the Special Branch made notes of the speeches delivered.

Other banning orders followed. During June both Mr. Oliver Tambo and Mr. Duma Nokvvc were banned from attending public gatherings in the Union and South-Wesl Africa for live years. Early the following month Mr. Robert Resha was banned from being in any magisterial district other than Johannesburg and from attending public gatherings for five years. The four top leaders of the A.N.C. were thus prevented from participating in conferences or meetings; but they did not resign from office.

Mr. Ben Bartman, an A.N.C. leader in Worcester who is ot Xhosa origin, was banished to the Ngwavuma district of Northern Zululand under the Native Administration Act, and Mr. Joseph Morolong, the regional secretary in Cape Town, was banished to Vryburg, his place of birth. Shortly afterwards Mr. Oscar Mpctha, president of the A.N.C. in the Cape and general secretary of the African Food and Canning Workers' Union, was banned for five years from attending meetings and from leaving the magisterial districts of Cape Town, Wynberg, Simonstown and Bellville. Mr. Gert Sibande, the Transvaal president of the A.N.C., has been banned from attending meetings and banished to the Komatipoort area. It was announced on 31 October 1959 that Mrs. Elizabeth Mafckcng, who is Vicc-Presidcnt of the A.N.C. Women's League and President of the African Food and Canning Workers' Union, and who has eleven children, had been banished from Paarl and ordered to go to an isolated farm near Vryburg, in the Northern Cape. Instead of going to Vryburg, she escaped to Basutoland.

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.