About this site

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Foundation, 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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.


The natal Indian Congress is revived.

The Voice of Women magazine is launched.

14 January - 21 January 1971

A conference of Heads of Government from the Commonwealth is held in Singapore at which Britain's proposed sale of arms to South Africa is extensively debated. A study group is set up to consider the question in the context of the security of maritime trade routes in the South Atlantic and Indian Oceans.

20 January 1971

The Anglican Dean of Johannesburg, the Very Rev. Gonville Aubie ffrench-Beytagh, is detained by the police, accused of subversive activities.

1 February 1971

South Africa:Signs an amendment with Malawi on the provisions of the trade agreement of 13 March 1967.

2 February 1971

South Africa:Signs the Convention of Wetlands and Water Fowl.

The Minister of Justice says, in Parliament, that for as long as the present government is in power the Immorality Act will not be repealed.

8 February 1971

The text of a letter from South Africa to the International Court of Justice at The Hague, officially requesting it to cooperate in supervising a plebiscite in Namibia, is released. The Court is considering a request by the United Nations Security Council for an opinion on the legal consequences of South Africa's continued presence in the territory in defiance of United Nations resolutions.

Minister of Labour Marais Viljoen announces total exemption for Coloureds from job reservation in the building industry on the Reef and in Pretoria.

11 February 1971

South Africa:Signs treaty with Israel on the reciprocal recognition of air worthiness certificates between South Africa and Israel.

South Africa:Signs multilateral treaty pertaining to nuclear weapons on the seabed.

16 February - 22 February 1971

A number of religious ministers and lay workers from Europe and America are told to leave the country.

19 February 1971

It is reported that the Security Police have detained about twenty Africans, Coloureds and Asians. The detainees are said to be members of the Unity Movement of South Africa, founded in 1943 by Coloured schoolteachers.

The South African arms question is discussed in a closed session of the Singapore Commonwealth Conference.

20 February 1971

The British Prime Minister reiterates his government's attitude to the sale of arms in South Africa, at the Commonwealth Conference in Singapore. Accordingly the South African government has assured Britain that it had no aggressive intentions and that maritime arms would be used only to secure the sea routes.

22 February 1971

The South African Defence Ministry announces that the British government, following its obligations as per the Simonstown Agreement, is willing to give an export licence for Wasp helicopters as requested by South Africa.

25 February 1971

The Chief of the Security Police announces that raids undertaken on this date at offices of Christian and student organizations in the country's main cities have revealed quantities of documents concerning ffrench-Beytagh's activities. The Dean is consequently remanded until 28 May 1971 and again until 30 June 1971. The original charges are withdrawn: a new indictment is drawn up under the Terrorism Act.

The OAU publishes a statement condemning Britain's proposed sale of helicopters to South Africa.

March 1971

The Bantu Homelands Constitution Bill is enacted in the last week of March. 3 Mar. 1971 A Constitution Amendment Bill, empowering the government to proclaim any African language an official language in any self-governing territory, when considered fit passes its second reading at a joint sitting of both Houses of Parliament. Seven different African languages will thus be given official recognition.

15 March 1971

South Africa:Signs treaty with Netherlands for the avoidance of double taxation and the prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income.

19 March 1971

Prime Minister Vorster says that his government is prepared to engage in dialogue, without preconditions, with other African countries prepared to talk. His offer meets with mixed reactions throughout the continent.

22 March 1971

A statement by Ghana's Minister of Foreign Affairs in the Ghanal. National Assembly indicates a readiness to visit South Africa.

26 March 1971

The Prime Minister of Swaziland visits Cape Town for talks with John Vorster and confirms that a policy of friendship and cooperation towards the Republic is being maintained.

29 March 1971

South Africa:Signs Wheat Trade Convention.

30 March 1971

Prime Minister Vorster holds his first-ever international press conference and asserts that discussion of separate development with Africa's black leaders will be welcomed. A policy of external dialogue is to be pursued.

Referring to allegations that a vendetta is being conducted against churches and religious workers in South Africa. Prime Minister Vorster says that of 1,440 religious workers only six have been deported in the last ten years, seventeen were refused extensions of permits and two were refused visas.

End-March:The Bantu Homelands Constitution Bill is enacted. It empowers the government to grant self-government, on an equal footing with that of the Transkei, to any area with a Territorial Authority, upon the latter's request, at any time, by simple proclamation, after consultation with the Territorial Authority concerned, but without parliamentary enactment.

31 March 1971

Bantu Homelands Constitution Act (National States Constitutional Act) No 21:

Provided for the granting of increased powers to homeland governments, thus facilitating their eventual 'independence'.

Commenced: 31 March 1971

Repealed by Sch 7 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa Act No 200 of 1993.

1 April 1971

Accepts the accession of Ireland to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade.

13 April 1971

The Chief Minister of Transkei demands full control of all departments of state.

16 April 1971

The Minister of Bantu Administration and Development, MC. Botha, replies to Paramount Chief Kaiser Matanzima's demands for increased control and for the transference to the Transkei of certain lands technically within its boundaries, from the Republic. Certain police stations will be transferred to Transkeian jurisdiction.

21 April 1971

The Prime Minister refers to the Chief Minister of Transkei's demands of 13 April and points out that Defence could not be transferred as it would mean changing the Constitution of the Transkei Act of 1963.

Prime Minister Vorster makes a lengthy statement on South Africa's relations with Zambia.

22 April 1971

The Ciskei Territorial Authority elects a twenty-member select committee to draft a Constitution for an independent Ciskei.

Speaking in the House of Assembly the Prime Minister lays down guidelines for international sports meetings in South Africa. He makes it clear, however, that there has been no change in sports policy on the club, provincial and national levels.

23 April - 26 April 1971

Prime Minister Vorster denies that he has broken any confidence in disclosing exchanges with Zambia and he added that it was fallacious that he indicated that he was willing to discuss Rhodesia's future with President Kaunda.

28 April 1971

The President of the Ivory Coast reiterates his initiative for opening a dialogue with South Africa. While Swaziland approves the dialogue, Tanzania and Mauritius refuse to participate and many member states of the OAU strongly oppose it.

1 May 1971

The Tswana Legislative Assembly comes into being.

3 May 1971

Chief Kaiser Matanzima denies in the Transkei Legislative Assembly that he is agitating for independence at this state, but he will continue to make certain legitimate land claims.

Signs treaty with Malawi on the avoidance of double taxation and the prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income.

5 May 1971

A wide-ranging bill providing severe penalties for dealing in or using dangerous drugs is published.

6 May 1971

Minister of Defence P.W. Botha announces in the House of Assembly that South Africa has reached such a degree of self-sufficiency that it does not need any arms from the outside world for internal security.

12 May 1971

Extension of University Education Amendment Act No 29:

In order to prevent students from changing courses after admission, the Minister would give consent only in respect of a specific university and a specified qualification. He could withdraw his consent if the student concerned changed her/his course of study (SRR 1971:288).

Commenced: 12 May 1971

Repealed by s 21 of the Tertiary Education Act No 66 of 1988.

14 May 1971

The International Court of Justice at The Hague rejects the government's application that a plebiscite be organized in Namibia and rejects the offer of additional documentation about the situation there.

16 May 1971

Prime Minister Vorster declares that if the positive signs of cooperation with the rest of Africa are interpreted correctly, South Africa could become the leading state of Southern Africa.

21 May 1971

South Africa:Joins the International Telecommunications Satellite Organisation (lntelsat).

26 May 1971

South Africa:Signs multilateral articles of agreement on the Southern African Regional Tourism Council.

1 June 1971

The Venda and Ciskei territorial authorities are replaced by legislative assemblies.

9 June 1971

The Minister of Coloured Affairs pledges himself to strive for equal pay for equal work for Coloureds.

11 June 1971

Minister of the Interior Theo Gerdener, indicates that the Public Service Commission will make a comprehensive study to create a more satisfactory ratio between white and non-white salaries in government service.

14 June 1971

The World Council of Churches cancels a special consultation in South Africa because of unacceptable conditions imposed on it by Prime Minister Vorster.

15 June 1971

South Africa:Signs amendment of Article 50(A) of the Convention on International Civil Aviation.

20 June 1971

At the meetings of Council of Ministers of the OAU, dialogue with South Africa is firmly rejected.

21 June 1971

The International Court of Justice at The Hague declares that South Africa is under obligation to withdraw its administration from Namibia immediately and thus put an end to its occupation of the territory. John Vorster reacts by indicating that as the judgment is only advisory, it can not be considered binding, and South Africa will act as it sees fit.

22 June 1971

A Pretoria court rules that the former leader of the banned PAC, Robert Sobukwe, will not be allowed to use his exit permit (granted by the Minister of the Interior) to leave South Africa permanently because the Minister of Justice refuses to lift his banning order confining him to the magisterial district of Kimberley.

27 June 1971

The Chairman of Armscor announces that under an agreement with a French aviation company, Mirage III and F jet fighters will be built in South Africa with the help of French personnel.

28 June 1971

Father Cosmos Desmond, British born Roman Catholic priest, is placed under house arrest in Johannesburg by an order signed by the Minister of Justice.

30 June 1971

Membership of the Bank for International Settlement is extended to the South African Reserve Bank.

July 1971

The South African Communist Party paper, Inkululeko-Freedom is launched: a sign of underground activities inside the country.

5 July 1971

The Minister of Information outlines his government's plan for the nine homelands' of South Africa in London. They are to become sovereign states in their own right, independent, entitled to maintain their own languages cultures and identities in their own way, according to their own wishes in their own geographical territories.

17 July 1971

South Africa:Signs multilateral treaty on the partial revision of the 1959 radio regulations.

25 July 1971

Joe Kachingwe is appointed Malawi's first Ambassador to South Africa and assumes office in Pretoria on 29 July 1971.

27 July 1971

Prime Minister Vorster completes a tour of African homelands' in the Northern Transvaal during which he holds talks with leaders of the North Sotho, Tswana and Venda homelands. The importance of working together is emphasized. Regular consultation is promised.

29 July 1971

The International Court of Justice in The Hague unanimously condemns the continuing presence of South Africa in South West Africa and defines the legal consequences.

2 August 1971

The trial of the Very Rev. Gonville Aubie ffrench-Beytagh begins in the Pretoria Supreme Court. Sidney Kentridge appears as Council for the Defence. The Dean himself explains his attitudes and beliefs in evidence given by him on 14-20 September 1971.

4 August 1971

The government gives limited powers of internal self-government to homeland', Damaraland, in Namibia.

5 August 1971

The Minister of Defence says that South Africa has become so self-sufficient in the manufacture of arms that she is considering exporting weapons. European countries have accepted that military equipment of a high quality is being produced.

7 August 1971

A Malagasy government delegation arrives for a five-day visit aimed at consolidating relations between the two countries. It is agreed to establish a permanent joint commission to explore further fields of co-operation.

10 August 1971

Eleven bombs explode, scattering ANC propaganda leaflets in the four major cities. The blasts occur twelve months after similar actions in the same cities.

16 August - 20 August 1971

President Hastings Banda, President of Malawi, pays a state visit to South Africa, meeting the State President and the Prime Minister. On his return, he declares that 99% of the Africans whom he met supported his policy of contact with Pretoria.

25 August 1971

The leader of the Zulu Territorial Authority, Chief Buthelezi, calls for a National Convention of all races in South Africa to decide the country's future political direction. John Vorster rejects this completely, but it is supported as a constructive proposal by both the opposition United Party and the Progressive Party.

30 August 1971

The government announces programmes for expanded development and augmented political powers for the Ovambo and Kavango homelands in Namibia.

11 September 1971

The Australian Cricket Board decides to withdraw its invitation to the South African Cricket Team to tour Australia. Minister of Sport F.W. Waring blames acts of anarchy and threats of a misguided minority for this decision.

15 September - 17 December 1971

At the twenty-fifth session of the General Assembly of the United Nations, six resolutions denounce the South African government's apartheid policy.

18 September 1971

During a meeting with representatives of the nine member churches of the World Council of Churches in South Africa, Prime Minister Vorster reaffirms that he will not consider allowing a WCC delegation to come to South Africa under any conditions. Nor will he allow any funds to be sent from South Africa to the World Council.

23 September 1971

Signs multilateral treaty for the suppression of unlawful acts against the safety of civil aviation.

26 September 1971

Minister of Coloured Affairs, J.J. Loots announces that larger Coloured group areas will gradually be transformed into fully fledged municipalities, under the Coloured Persons Representative Council.

28 September 1971

President Idi Amin of Uganda offers to dispatch a ten-man investigatory mission to South Africa. South Africa replies by inviting Amin himself, or one or more members of his government instead - an alternative which proves unacceptable.

Signs Customs Convention on the Temporary Importation of Professional and

30 September 1971

It is officially announced that the British and South African naval units will engage in a month of joint manoeuvres in South African waters from 4 October to 3 November 1971.

South Africa:Signs amendment to the trade agreement of 20 August 1932 with Great Britain.

October 1971

The new leader of the Progressive Party, Cohn Eglin, together with Helen Suzman, undertake a visit to seven black African states.

4 October 1971

Chief Leabua Jonathan, Prime Minister of Lesotho, warns that violent confrontation between blacks and whites will be an inevitable consequence of apartheid. Mr Vorster responds with restraint, in the interest of friendship.

4 October - 28 October 1971

Three leaders of 'homelands' governments - Paramount Chief Kaiser Matanzima (Transkei), Chief Gatsha Buthelezi (Zulu Territorial Authority) and Chief Lucas Mangope (Councillor of the Tswanas) - visit Great Britain at the invitation of the British government to study British institutions and the independence processes undergone by the former High Commission Territories.

5 October 1971

The Prime Minister announces at the National Party Congress the incidences on the border of Zambia and the Caprivi Strip. He reminds the Congress of his previous warnings that South Africa will not tolerate the incursion of communist trained terrorists into South African territory and they will be pursued to the land from where they came.

6 October 1971

The Minister of State of the Ivory Coast, Koffia Ndia, visits South Africa, reraffirming the country's commitment to dialogue.

7 October 1971

SWAPO claims it was not responsible for placing landmines in the Caprivi Strip and that the guerrillas were not operating from Zambia, but from inside Namibia.

8 October 1971

The United Nations Security Council meets in emergency session to hear a complaint by Zambia against numerous violations by South African forces against the sovereignty, airspace and territorial integrity of Zambia. South Africa categorically rejects the Zambian allegations.

11 October 1971

South Africa:Signs visa agreement with Iran.

12 October 1971

The Security Council unanimously adopts an amended resolution, sponsored by four African states, which declares that army violation of the border of a member-state is contrary to the UN Charter. It calls on South Africa to respect Zambia's sovereignty.

South Africa Signs amendments to the multilateral treaty on the safety of life at sea.

13 October 1971

South Africa:Signs treaty with Australia on postal parcels.

15 October 1971

Accepts the accession of Romania to the General Agreement on Tarnfs and Trade.

18 October 1971

The seventh Summit Conference of the Fast and Central African states, held in Mogadishu, adopts a Declaration urging armed struggle to liberate Southern Africa, to which they grant total support. This rejection of South Africa's dialogue policy is welcomed by the leaders of both the ANC, Alfred Nzo and the PAC.

24 October 1971

The Security Police raid more than 100 homes throughout the country in a search for illegal political literature.

28 October - 28 October 1971

It is officially confirmed that one of nineteen Indians detained, Ahmed Timol, a Moslem teacher, has jumped to his death from the tenth floor of the main police building in Johannesburg - the seventeenth death in detention under security laws. Following calls from the opposition and others for a judicial inquiry into deaths of police detainees, the Prime Minister states on the following day, 29 October 1971, that he finds no need for this.

Winnie Mandela is given a six-month suspended sentence for defying a banning order. She is to appear in court on 16 November 1971 on a second similar charge.

29 October 1971

The Prime Minister emphasizes that following the church's subversive activities, that a comprehensive and serious investigation in connection with terrorism and sabotage can be expected.

November 1971

End- Novemember:Chiefs Buthelezi and Mangope visit West Germany in early November and hold discussions with ministers and officials.

1 November 1971

After a protracted trial the Anglican Dean of Johannesburg, the Very Rev. Gonville Aubie ffrench-Beytagh is found guilty on ten points of subversive activities against the state and is sentenced to five years' imprisonment with a grant of leave to appeal. The sentence is followed by wide-spread criticism and protests, both within and without the country.

3 November 1971

Please ensure that the event is listed in such a way that is answers the questions WHO? WHAT? WHThe Cape Provincial Council approves the Local Authorities Voters' Amendment Ordinance, removing the names of Coloured persons from the common voters rolls of municipal and divisional councils in the Cape Province, depriving them of tights enjoyed for over 100 years.ERE and if interpretation is included WHY? (eg. South Africans vote in the first democratic elections in South Africa).

12 November 1971

The biennial Congress of the United Party requests the government to hold a referendum before sovereign independence is granted to 'homelands'. The party remains opposed to the separate development policy.

Signs amendments to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade.

Accepts the accession of the Congo to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade.

13 November - 14 November 1971

The World Council of Churches meeting in Geneva states that the sentence against Rev. ffrench-Beytagh will stir up the world's indignation against South Africa.

16 November 1971

Signs amendments to the Convention on Narcotic Drugs, 1961.

24 November 1971

Signs agreement with Portugal (for Mozambique) pertaining to rivers of mutual interest.

26 November 1971

Black Affairs Administration Act No 45:

Provided for black self-government in townships.

Commenced: 26 November 1971

Repealed by s 69 of the Black Communities Development Act No 4 of 1984.

29 November 1971

The United Nations General Assembly asks all world governments to apply a full-scale embargo on arms supplies to South Africa, condemns the establishment of Bantustans and asks national and international sports organizations to refuse any recognition to any sporting activity involving racial, religious or political discrimination.

29 November 1971

The General Assembly adopted resolution 2775 D (XXVI) calling for a boycott of sports teams selected in violation of the Olympic principle of non-discrimination. It also condemned the establishment of bantustans and forced removals of African people.

2 December 1971

Robert Sobukwe, former PAC leader, is finally refused permission to leave the country, the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court dismisses his appeal against a lower court decision.

4 December 1971

The Defence Minister denies that South Africa has sent troops to Malawi to quell the security threat on Malawi's southern border, but military equipment is being supplied.

Speaking at the installation of Prince Goodwill Zwelithini as Paramount Chief of the Zulu nation in Nongoma, the Minister of Bantu Administration and Development supports the traditional system of Chieftainship. His speech is resented by the Chief Executive Officer of the Zulu Territorial Authority, Chief Gatsha Buthelezi, who construes it as directed against himself.

13 December 1971

South Africa:Signs treaty with Australia concerning an international observer scheme for landbased whaling stations.

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