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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

Survey Of Race Relations 1974 (Sairr)

Prohibition Of Gatherings

Gatherings that have been prohibited

On 29 March the magistrate of Durban informed five local newspapers and the S.A. Broadcasting Corporation that he had reason to apprehend that the public peace would be seriously endangered by a gathering advertised as Heroes Day Sharpeville Commemorative Service to be held in the hall of the YMCA, Beatrice Street, on 30 March. The Press speculated that this meeting was to have been organized by the S.A. Students' Organization.

Also during March, students of the University of Cape Town applied to the chief magistrate for permission to stage a protest demonstration against a State visit to S.A. by President Alf redo Stoessner of Paraguay. The Deputy Minister of Justice issued Government Notice 592 of 1 April, in which he deemed it expedient for the maintenance of the public peace to prohibit any such protest or demonstration.

Government Notice 1362 of 9 August prohibited until 11 August 1976 certain forms of outdoor gatherings in part of the central area of Cape Town. The gatherings prohibited were:

1 . gatherings, concourses, or processions in or through the area of twelve or more persons having a common purpose;

2 . gatherings (which a particular person may be prohibited from attending) at which any form of State or any principle or policy of the Government of a State is propagated, defended, attacked, criticised, or discussed, or at which any person, cause, action, or contemplated action or failure to lake action is protested against.

Exemptions may be granted by the magistrate.

On 24 September the Minister of Justice prohibited until 20 October any meetings, anywhere in the country, to be held by or on behalf of the S.A. Students' Organization or the Black People's Convention. By means of pamphlets and banners these bodies had made it known that they were planning to convene pro-Frelimo rallies.

Despite this ban, meetings were held the next day at Curries Fountain, Durban, and at the University of the North (Turfloop). About 1 000 people assembled to attend the Durban gathering. Through a loud-hailer, a police officer issued several orders to the crowd to disperse. It was reported that stones and bottles were thrown at the police while he spoke. Using about 20 dogs, the police then broke up the meeting. Several arrests were made. After between 450 and 500 Turfloop students had failed to heed a warning to disperse, the police charged with batons and fired tear-gas cartridges. Cars belonging to members of the university staff welt stoned and four members of staff injured. Subsequent events at this university are described in the chapter on Education.

After the meetings, the police searched the offices and homes of Saso and B.P.C. members at various centres in S.A., making a number of further arrests. The detention of the persons concerned is dealt with in the chapter on Justice. The editor of the Natal Daily News was arrested for having published a report that the ban on gatherings was "to be defied". Under the provisions of the Riotous Assemblies Act it is an offence to "advertise" a meeting that has been prohibited. Bail was allowed. It was announced later that both the editor and the senior assistant editor would be tried in the Durban Regional Court on 27 November. After the hearing, judgment was reserved. The Acting Chief Magistrate of Johannesburg prohibited any gathering of the Transvaal Youth Organization to be held from midnight on 28 September to midnight on 3 October.

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