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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.


Sisulu has a discussions with Mandela regarding meetings with government.

Release of Govan Mbeki. Speculation about Walter's release.

1987 saw the highest number of strikes ever, including a strike by over 300,000 mineworkers.

Joe Slovo resigned his post as a chief of staff of Mkhonto, giving rise to speculation that he would concentrate on the labour movement in South Africa. At this time, confusing reports from London and Washington showed a contradictory shift of position at the top. Much international publicity was given to ANC president Oliver Tambo's more conciliatory comments on the occasion of the ANC's 57th anniversary address, when he indicated that the military wing would not deliberately attack civilian targets. On the other hand, Joe Modise, the banned military commander of Mkhonto we Sizwe, told Agence France-Press the ANC was planning to take the war into white households.

The Electoral Amendment Act No 8:

Stipulated that no person could be nominated as an election candidate without being a registered member of the Venda National Party.

Gazankulu: Civil Protection Act No 5:

Commenced: 25 April 1988

KwaNdebele: Civil Defence Act No 7:

Commenced: 12 February 1988

The KwaZulu Act on the Tracing and Detention of Offences:

Empowered the KwaZulu Police and South African Police to detain without warrant, for the purposes of interrogation and for a period of up to ninety days, any person suspected by the police of intending to commit or having committed a crime.

Commenced: 1987

QwaQwa: Education Act No 7:

Commenced: 1 July 1988

People's education material is banned from DET schools.

Zubeida Jaffer heads Media Department at University of the Western Cape.

8 January 1987

At the ANC's seventy-fifth anniversary, its President Oliver Tambo rules out negotiations with the South African government and declares 1987 'the year of advance to people's power'.

9 January 1987

Security police raid English-language newspapers seizing documents related to an advertisement calling for the legalising of the ANC.

A bomb explodes in a major departmental store in the centre of Johannesburg.

20 January 1987

The Margo Commission of Inquiry into the death of President Samora Machel has its first hearing in Johannesburg.

28 January 1987

United States Secretary of State, George Shultz, meets ANC leader, Oliver Tambo, in Washington, D.C.

19 February 1987

President Lennox Sebe of the Ciskei escapes an assassination attempt.

March 1987

Joe Slovo resigns as Chief of Staff of Umkhonto we Sizwe, the military wing of the ANC.

16 March 1987

The International Commission of Jurists states in its report that children are being tortured by security forces.

18 March 1987

Israel freezes military contracts and imposes cultural and tourism sanctions on South Africa.

22 March 1987

Archbishop Desmond Tutu meets the ANC in Zambia and fails to convince the organization to abandon the armed struggle.

30 March 1987

The Republic of Venda Constitution Amendment Act No 4:

Had the effect of making Venda a one-party administration (s 24(1)).

Commenced: 30 March 1987

5 April 1987

Transkei deports white Selous Scout mercenaries.

10 April 1987

Ciskei, Transkei and South Africa sign a security pact forbidding cross-border violence.

16 April 1987

The Security Council called upon South African authorities to revoke the decree of 10 April prohibiting protests against detention without trial.

30 April 1987

South Africa:Signs an agreement with Lesotho in regard to the establishment of trade missions.

May 1987

South African agents attack ANC offices and safe houses in Maputo and Harare.

Major urban areas hit by a wave of pre-election bomb blasts for which the ANC claims responsibility.

6 May 1987

The ruling National Party wins the general election and the rightwing Conservative Party replaces the PFP as the official opposition in the white House of Assembly.

7 May 1987

The COSATU building in Johannesburg is seriously damaged by two bomb blasts.

18 May 1987

Walter Sisulu celebrates 75th birthday.

4 June 1987

President Botha visits Sharpeville.

5 June 1987

Electoral Amendment Act No 7:

Provisions of section 16(a) allowed for the refusal of registration to political parties. Parties could be disqualified if their object was deemed to be 'hostile to the state'.

Commenced: 5 June 1987

11 June 1987

The year old State of Emergency renewed.

11 June 1987

State of emergency declared Regulations governed security, media and black education. Initial period of detention extended from fourteen to thirty days.

11 June 1987

State of emergency declared in South Africa .

16 June 1987

Concludes a reciprocal radio agreement with the Republic of Chile.

24 June 1987

Government Notice No 68:

Repealed curfew regulations.

Commenced: 24 June 1987

30 June 1987

Proclamation No 8:

Declared a state of emergency in Transkei.

Commenced: 30 June 1987

July 1987

Key African ANC personnel are assassinated in South Africa's neighbouring states. Amongst them is Cassius Make and Paul Dikeledi, both killed in Swaziland.

1 July 1987

Eight multi-racial Regional Services Councils are established to provide basic services, such as water and electricity.

The Reverend Frank Chikane succeeds the Reverend C.F. Beyers Naudé as head of the South African Council of Churches.

6 July 1987

A new black party, the Federal Independent Democratic Alliance (FIDA) is launched to oppose apartheid and prepares to work with the government.

9 July 1987

The Margo Commission of Inquiry into the death of President Samora Machel releases its findings. The plane carrying him crashes due to pilot error and negligence and was not lured off course by a decoy beacon as alleged by the Soviets and Mozambicans.

9 July - 12 July 1987

Sixty-one white South Africans, mainly from the Afrikaans community, meet the ANC in Dakar, in search of a democratic alternative for South Africa. Eric Mntonga, an IDASA official, who organized this meeting, is found stabbed to death.

10 July 1987

Ratifies the Convention on Assistance in the case of a Nuclear Accident or Radiological Emergency; also ratifies Convention on Early Notification of a Nuclear Accident.

20 July 1987

Signs an agreement with the Federal Islamic Republic of the Comores relating to the basic conditions governing the secondment of officials to, and the recruitment of other personnel by South Africa on behalf of the government of the Republic of the Comores.

26 July 1987

Prominent anti-apartheid activists are arrested. Amongst them is Azhar Cachalia, national treasurer of the United Democratic Front (UDF).

30 July 1987

A bomb explodes outside the headquarters of the South African Defence Force, injuring soldiers and civilians.

31 July - 3 August 1987

International Student Conference in Solidarity with the Struggle of the Students of Southern Africa, London.

14 August 1987

Reverend Allan Hendricks, a cabinet minister, resigns from government.

4 September 1987

KwaNdebele: Public Safety Act No 5:

Commenced: 4 September 1987

7 September 1987

An intricate prisoner exchange takes place in Maputo, involving 133 Angolan soldiers, anti-apartheid activists, Klaas de Jonge, a Dutch anthropologist, Pierre Andre Albertini, a French university lecturer and Major Wynand du Toit, a South African officer captured in Angola two years ago.

11 September 1987

A revised National Statutory Council is released providing a forum for blacks to discuss policy and assist in drawing up a new constitution.

13 September 1987

Venda Border Extension Act No 31:

Included further territory into Venda.

Commenced: 13 September 1979

23 September 1987

Signs treaty with Malawi providing for the training of nurses from Malawi in South Africa.

24 September 1987

Congress of Traditional Leaders of South Africa is launched to articulate the interests of tribal chiefs and act as an extra-parliamentary opposition movement.

27 September 1987

Oliver Tambo, President of the ANC denies that it is in contact with the South African government.

October 1987

Chris Hani is appointed new Chief of Staff and Deputy Commander of Umkhonto we Sizwe.

5 October 1987

President P.W. Botha decides against scrapping the Separate Amenities Act, but agrees that some residential areas can be opened to all races.

6 October 1987

ANC command structure in the Western Cape is arrested.

12 October 1987

Wynand Malan a former National Party M.P. leads the newly formed Afrikaans dominated political party, the National Democratic Movement (NDM) which is to develop contacts with black politicians.

5 November 1987

Govan Mbeki released from Robben Island after twenty-three years in prison.

5 November - 7 November 1987

International Conference against Apartheid Sport, Harare, organised by the Special Committee against Apartheid in cooperation with the Government of Zimbabwe, the Supreme Council for Sport in Africa, the Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa, the Union of African Sports Confederations, SAN-ROC and the Zimbabwe National Olympic Committee.

6 November 1987

Intelligence Service and State Security Council Act No 20:

Granted further powers to the security mechanisms.

Commenced: 6 November 1987

1 December 1987

Signs an agreement with the USA regarding co-operation in the development, building, installation and operation of an integrated real-time global seismic data acquisition system.

24 December 1987

Gazankulu: Social Pensions Amendment Act No 7:

Commenced: 24 December 1987

30 December 1987

The Transkei military overthrows the administration of Stella Sigcau of the Transkei.

30 December 1987

Bloodless coup d'etat. Martial law declared

(SRR 1987/88: 936).

31 December 1987

Ratifies International Sugar Agreement.

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.