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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

POQO

The PAC* was formed in 1959 under the leadership of Robert Sobukwe but shortly afterwards, having taken a prominent role in the anti-passbook campaign that preceded the Sharpeville massacre in 1960, the PAC was banned and Sobukwe imprisoned. The PAC, now under Potlako Leballo, formed an underground military wing known as Poqo ('Pure'). This became the first black political organization in South Africa that openly accepted the taking of human life as part of its strategy and the PAC was thus manifestly more militant than the ANC.* In the early 1960s Poqo was particularly active, targeting and murdering suspected police informants including certain Transkeian authorities (who were widely seen as government stooges). It also undertook a number of attacks on whites and attempted to instigate a general uprising with the aim of putting Africans (to the exclusion of other anti-apartheid black groups), in control of the country. This plan concentrated in the Cape, was however poorly organized and the government succeeded in stamping it out and virtually neutralizing both the PAC and Poqo. Although the PAC sought refuge outside South Africa and set up its base in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, Poqo did not survive and by 1968 the military functions of the PAC were taken over by APLA.*

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.