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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

1963. General Laws Amendment Act No 37

Thompson (1990: 199) dates this act 1966, which could refer to a further amendment.

This act "strengthened the 1962 [GENERAL LAWS AMENDMENT] ACT ... by further defining political crimes" (Riley 1991: 82). For instance, Section 5 made a capital crime out of "receiving training that could further the objects of communism or advocating abroad economic or social change in South Africa by violent means through the aid of a foreign government or institution where the accused is a resident or former resident of South Africa" (Dugard 1978: 125t). It made provisions for imposing "sentences ranging from a minimum of five years' imprisonment to death for anyone leaving the country to learn sabotage techniques, for advocating the forcible overthrow of the government or for urging the forcible inter-venti on in domestic South African affairs by an outside power, including the UN" (Riley 1991: 82).

It also "gave police powers of detention without charge and of solitary confinement" (Worden 1994: 108). Section 17 set the the maximum period of detention without trial at 90 days (Dyzenhaus 1991: 100f; Riley 1991: 82), during which time detainees were not allowed legal councelling nor visitors; thus it became popularly known as the "90-day law".

Moreover, Lapping (1986: 200; see also Davenport 1987: 404) states that the period of detention without trial was set at 12 days in 1962 (not 1961, as stated by Fine & Davis 1990: 227), 90 days in 1963 (by this act), 180 days in 1965 (see the CRIMINAL PROCEDURE AMENDMENT ACT of 1965), an unlimited period of time if authorized by a judge in 1966 (actually in 1967; see the TERRORISM ACT of 1967) and without any authorization in 1976 (see the INTERNAL SECURITY ACT of 1976). Actually, already the 1963 act included certain provisions for an indefinite detention. Says Riley (1991: 82): "One of the act's most controversial provisions empowered the government [though not the police] to detain for an indefinite period anyone serving a sentence for sabotage or a similar crime after the expiration of their sentence." The clause was also known as the "Sobukwe Clause" since it was specifically aimed at keeping the PAC leader Robert Sobukwe in jail (as also later admitted by the government). Thus after a three-year sentence, he "was actually detained for a further six years on the annual decision of the Parliament" (Davenport 1987: 396).

This act was superseded by the INTERNAL SECURITY ACT of 1976.

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