Yusuf Dadoo Timeline: 1950 - 1959

Yusuf Dadoo Timeline: 1950 - 1959

1950

January 6-8, The Communist Party of South Africa (CPSA) holds its last legal conference in Johannesburg prior to its dissolution.

February, At an African National Congress (ANC) meeting of 10 000 people, at Newtown Market Square, Dr James Sebe Moroka declares support for united action against the governments laws.  Moses Kotane of the CPSA also speaks at this meeting.

March 26, Over 10 000 people gather at Johannesburg's Market Square to support a call for a general strike. The Transvaal African National Congress, Transvaal Indian Congress (TIC), African People's Organisation (APO) and the Johannesburg District of the Communist Party of South Africa convene the Defend Free Speech Convention, attended by 528 delegates representing over a million people, throughout the Transvaal at the Gandhi Hall, Johannesburg in protest of the bans.  The convention condemns the bans on the two leaders and calls for May 1 to be observed as Freedom Day and people of all races to stay away from work to demonstrate support for freedom.  The ANC does not support the Convention but the Transvaal ANC does so, unofficially. Dr Moroka presides over the meeting. By this time, Dr Alfred Bitini Xuma resigns from the ANC NEC after his differences with the African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL).

Dr Yusuf Dadoo and Sam Kahn attend the closed session of the ANC delegates' conference, at Gandhi Hall.  They found a legal loophole in the Riotous Assemblies Act, to attend 'private conferences' in spite of their ban.  Dadoo addresses this meeting.  The joint honorary secretaries of the Convention, David Bopape, Yusuf Cachalia and Dan Tloome write to the leaders of the ANC, South African Indian Congress (SAIC), APO and the Coloured People's National Union requesting them to convene a National Convention in Johannesburg on 1 - 2 July.

May 1, The first national strike, against discriminatory laws and a demand for full franchise takes place on Freedom Day.  This is the first major joint campaign with popular support from Indians and Coloureds in South Africa's history.  Police open fire in Alexandra Township and other areas on the Reef, killing 18 and wounding 30 people.

May, Dadoo calls for a broad anti-nationalist front to oppose anti-apartheid laws such as the Group Areas Act.

May, The Government publishes the Unlawful Organisations Bill, subsequently known as the Suppression of Communism Act

May 5 - 6, An emergency meeting of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of South Africa, convened in Cape Town discusses the impending Unlawful Organisations Bill, declaring the propagation of Communism illegal.  The Bill earmarks the forcible dissolution of the CPSA and lays down various measures that the Government against members of the CPSA.  The meeting was to consider how the CPSA was going to deal with the Government's threat.

May 12, The Immorality Amendment Act No 21 of 1950 is passed.

May 14, Representatives from the South African Indian Congress, African People's Organisation, African National Congress Youth League, Council of Non-European Trade Unions, and the Communist Party of South Africa attend an emergency Conference of the African National Congress Working Committee.  After a lengthy discussion on the Unlawful Organisations Bill and the Group Areas Bill the Conference, adopt a resolution accepted by all the represented organisations.  

May 21, The African National Congress National Executive Committee (NEC) meets at an emergency meeting at Dr Moroka's home in Thaba 'Nchu, Free State.  The National Executive Committee decides to call a national one-day stay at home protest on 26 June.

May 28, The African National Congress, South African Indian Congress, Communist Party of South Africa and the African People's Organisation convene a mass rally in Durban.  The meeting resolves to observe 26 June as a day of mourning and protest against the May Day massacre and the tabling of the Unlawful Organisations Bill.  People are urged to stay at home. Dr Monty Naicker pledges Indian support for the unity initiative and declares Dr Moroka as 'Commander-in-Chief'.  Dadoo records a message, which is broadcast at the rally in which he said, "The choice before the people of our country is either to support the policies which lead to the establishment of a fascist dictatorship or to oppose and go forward to a truly democratic country."

June 11, The African National Congress and the South African Indian Congress declare a "National Day of Mourning", on 26 June, with a countrywide stay-at-home strike. 

June 20, The Central Committee meeting of the Communist Party of South Africa in Cape Town discusses the impending banning of the organisation.  The options for the Party are either to go underground or to dissolve rather than face a host of breaches of law and subsequent penalties, which would curtail members' ability to fight the cause.

Dadoo argues for the Party to go underground.  Only Bill Andrews and Michael Harmel oppose dissolution of the Party. Moses Kotane, JB Marks, and Edwin Mofutsanyana point out the dangers of going underground without preparation.  The Communist Party of South Africa declares that it dissolves itself a few days before the Government passes the Suppression of Communism Act, No. 44 of 1950.

The Minister of Justice appoints a liquidator, a Mr J.de Villiers Louw, to wind up the affairs of the CPSA.  The liquidator claims that the Party still continues to exist as it had not been dissolved in terms of the Constitution.  A court ruling allows the liquidator to perform his duty of winding up the affairs of the Party.

Sam Khan announced in the House of Assembly that the Communist Party of South Africa will dissolve from this day onwards.

June 26, Parliament approves the Suppression of Communism Act, No. 44 of 1950.  The South African Communist Party is declared illegal. The Act came into force on 17 July 1950.  A Day of National Protest and Mourning is held countrywide.  The South African Indian Congress and the African National Congress calls for a general strike in commemoration of those killed.  Leaders of the South African Indian Congress, African Peoples Organisation, and Communist Party pledge their support and join the African National Congress on a coordinating committee with Walter Sisulu and Yusuf Cachalia as joint secretaries.  The Durban City Council dismisses 334 Indian municipal council workers as against 80 African workers.  This is a deliberate attempt to divide workers. In Cape Town a similar call is made upon people to stay at home.

July 7, The Group Areas Act, Act No 41 of 1950 and the Population Registration Act, Act No 30 of 1950, is passed.

July 17, The Suppression of Communism Act, No. 44 of 1950, passed on 26 June comes into force.

July 30, Police raid the homes of African National Congress and South African Indian Congress members in 16 centres country wide.

August 20, African National Congress and South African Indian Congress leaders are arrested and charged for promoting Communism in terms of the newly passed Suppression of Communism Act.  They are released on £100 bail.

September 15, Dr Moroka opens the19th session of the South African Indian Congress in Johannesburg.  Dr Naicker nominates the banned Dr Dadoo as President.  Dadoo is unanimously elected President of the South African Indian Congress.  The South African Indian Congress passes a resolution to approach the ANC and other organisations 'to devise all effective and concrete ways and means of offering resistance to all discriminatory laws'. The Conference acclaims the growing unity of the oppressed peoples of South Africa.

September, Selby Msimang addresses the Natal Indian Congress annual conference.

October, Riots break out in Port Elizabeth and other centres.

November 12, J.B Marks is elected Transvaal President of the African National Congress.

December 6, Walter Sisulu addresses a South African Peace Movement meeting at the Ambagsaal, Johannesburg.  Dadoo and Michael Harmel also speak at this meeting

December 26, William (Bill) H. Andrews, Chairperson of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of South Africa and veteran trade unionist, passed away in Cape Town at the age of 80. Dadoo speaks at his funeral.

1951

Sonia Bunting attends the World Youth Congress in Berlin as part of a delegation led by Ahmed Kathrada.

Cissie Gool appears before a Cape Town magistrate for holding a public meeting. She becomes active in the Franchise Action Council (FAC), the forerunner of the South African Coloured People's Organisation (SACPO).

Dadoo's wife, Winnie, leaves South Africa for exile.

January 1, Dadoo's article, Fight for Peace, Democracy and an end to Exploitation, - a New Year message from the President of the SAIC, appears in the Guardian newspaper.  In it he calls for a national convention to be convened by the ANC and the drawing of common demands and programme.

January, The Franchise Action Committee, later renamed the Franchise Action Council (FAC) is established to defend the Coloured franchise, to demand votes for all South Africans on an equal basis and direct representation for Blacks in Parliament.

February, At this conference, the Franchise Action Committee (FAC) is formed to oppose the removal of Coloureds from the common voters roll.  Dadoo travels around Cape Town, with Reg September and Alex la Guma, speaking at demonstrations and talking to people outside factories, in residential areas and on Cape Town's Grand Parade.  They then travel to George and Knysna to mobilise people.

March 1, Dr. D. F Malan announces the Separate Representation of Voters Bill designed to remove Coloureds from the common voters roll in Cape.

7 April, Tens of thousands of people in Cape Town, other areas of the Western Province and Port Elizabeth strike against the Coloured Vote Bill.

End of April, The African National Congress Executive Committee meets in Bloemfontein and calls for 10 000 volunteers for the Defiance Campaign .

May, Dadoo goes to the Cape to assist in the launch of a campaign to mobilize Coloured people against the passing of the Separate Registration of Voters Bill.  He works with Sam Khan and Johnny Gomez.

May 7, The Franchise Action Council launches a one-day work and school stay away in Cape Town to protest against the Separate Representation of Voters Bill.  Eight thousand people march through Cape Town. The War Veterans Torch Commandos, a white ex-servicemen's organisation opposing government, also marches to Parliament to protest against the Separate Representation of Voters Bill.

June 10, Dadoo speaks at a Franchise Action Council mass meeting calling for mass resistance on a nationwide scale against all forms of apartheid

June 15 - 17, The African National Congress, National Executive Committee, invites the South African Indian Congress and the Franchise Action Council to discuss a joint campaign of civil disobedience and general strikes against unjust laws

June 18, The Suppression of Communism Act No 50 is passed

July 28 - 29, The African National Congress invites the South African Indian Congress, the African People's Organisation and the Franchise Action Council executives to a meeting in Johannesburg, to chart the way forward for a defiance campaign of Unjust Laws.  The Defiance campaign was to focus on six specific unjust laws, selected from hundreds on the Statute Book of South Africa:

* The Pass Laws which were the most hated laws affecting the African majority, and under which hundreds of thousands were sent to prison. Act 67 of 1952 tightened the pass laws.

* The Separate Representation of Voters Act, No. 46 of 1951, which removed the Coloured voters from the common roll.

* The Suppression of Communism Act, No. 44 of 1950, which made serious inroads into the civil liberties of all South Africans.

* The Bantu Authorities Act, No. 68 of 1951, which abolished the Native Representative Council and created tribal councils for Africans under the control of the white government.

* The Stock Limitation Regulations which limited the number of cattle for grazing and against which the rural African population had reacted with anger.

* The Group Areas Act of 1950, which had rallied world opinion against the D F Malan government.

The meeting appoints a Joint Planning Council to plan for the campaign.  Dr Moroka is elected Chairman, with Sisulu and Marks (African National Congress) and Dadoo and Yusuf Cachalia (South African Indian Congress) as members.

As the Congresses prepared for the Defiance Campaign, the Nationalist Government takes action against leading Natal Indian Congress and Transvaal Indian Congress members, by having them "named" under the Suppression of Communism Act. Dr GM Naicker, Debi Singh and IC Meer, President, General Secretary and Vice-President respectively of the Natal Indian Congress, Nana Sita and Yusuf Cachalia, President and Secretary of the Transvaal Indian Congress were named. The President of the South African Indian Congress, Dr YM Dadoo, had already been named."

October, At a meeting of the Pretoria branch of the TIC Yusuf Cachalia analysed the implications of the Group Areas Act and declared that Blacks in South Africa "will not accept the Act, which the Government regarded as the kernel of apartheid." He then made the first public announcement of a joint campaign. He told his audience that "In the very near future you will be called upon to do your share in the struggle against apartheid tyranny."  Other speakers at this meeting were Dr William Nkomo, Nana Sita, Ramlal Moolloo and the TIC secretary Mervin Thandray.

November 8, The Joint Planning Council (JPC) presents its report to the Executive Committees of the African National Congress and the South African Indian Congress.  The Joint Planning Council suggests that the campaign takes two forms, namely, a defiance of unjust laws and industrial action.  The Joint Planning Council's document is signed in Thaba 'Nchu at the home of Moroka.  Moroka, JB Marks and Walter Sisulu sign on behalf of the African National Congress.  Dadoo and Yusuf Cachalia sign on behalf of the South African Indian Congress.  The document outlines the national campaign for the repeal of unjust laws.  The Planning Council reports back and proposes two dates, 6 April 1952 and 26 June 1952 for the Defiance Campaign

December, The Government threatens to suppress the publication of The Guardian. Dadoo goes on an active campaign, taking to the streets selling The Guardian and calling for its continuation.  The case of The Guardian is eventually put before the Commission on Human Rights at the United Nations

December, Dadoo goes to Durban to support Naicker and the Natal Indian Congress in their opposition to the Group Areas Act. The Durban Municipal Council defines racial areas and plans to move 120 000 Indians from the central areas of Durban.  Dadoo and Naicker head an active campaign against the Zoning Commission, addressing meetings in various Indian areas throughout Natal.

December 15 - 17, Yusuf Cachalia, Manilal Gandhi and James Phillips, the President of the Transvaal Council of Trade Unions, address the African National Congress National Conference in Bloemfontein.  The African National Congress adopts the Joint Planning Council Report and resolves to call upon the Union Government to repeal all unjust laws by no later than 29th February 1952.

Some African National Congress Youth League members raise the issue of collaborating with Indians in the Defiance Campaign.  They oppose it vehemently as it impairs a "nationalistic" ideal.  The majority vote them down.  The African National Congress then drafts a letter to the government issuing an ultimatum that unless repressive legislation is repealed mass action will commence in opposition to it.  The government replies to this letter warning that if such action is to occur it would use all its powers to put it down.

December, Walter Sisulu, Dadoo, J.B. Marks and Y.A. Cachalia (all members of the Joint Planning Council) together with R.T. Chari, the former Secretary of the Indian High Commissioner in the Union, visit Basutoland.  There they have discussions with headmen and chiefs about the inauguration of the Protectorate by Great Britain.

1952

January 25, The Appellate Division of the Supreme Court sets aside the Separate Representation Voters Bill, after Coloured voters’ appeal that the entrenched Clause in South Africa requires a two-third majority of both Houses of Parliament in a joint sitting

James La Guma forms the Coloured People's Organisation (later the Coloured People's Congress) which becomes the successor to the African People's Organisation (APO).

The Abolition of Passes and Co-ordination of Documents Act of No 67 of 1952 includes Black women

January 21, Dr Moroka and Sisulu write a letter to Prime Minister Malan conveying the ultimatum that unjust laws be repealed by 29 February.

January 25 - 27, At its 20th annual conference in Johannesburg, the South African Indian Congress adopts the Joint Planning Council report.  Dr S.M. Molema, African National Congress, National-Treasurer delivers the keynote address. Dadoo, in his Presidential address, refers to international and national issues.  He outlines the development of the local struggle up to that point and calls on the Conference to follow the ANC and adopt the Defiance Campaign report.

January 26, The police, offering no reasons, arrest Dadoo and nine other delegates during the night.  That same night they are released on £15 bail.  No charges were preferred against them.

January 29, The Prime Minister responds to the African National Congress letter through his Private Secretary, M. Aucamp.  In the letter, he lambasts the African National Congress for writing to him directly instead of going through the Minister of Native Affairs

February 11, Since the Malan Government rejects the repeal of the six unjust laws, the African National Congress replies that it is to proceed with the Defiance Campaign.

February 20, Following the conference, the South African Indian Congress sends a letter signed by Dadoo (President) and Yusuf Cachalia (Secretary), to Dr DF Malan calling for laws, which offend the dignity of man and retard the progress of South Africa to be repealed.  The SAIC supports the ANC's earlier letter.  The Prime Minister does not reply or even acknowledge the letter.

March 23, Cyprian Solomon, Paramount Chief of the Zulus, warns 20,000 of his people, not to participate in the Defiance Campaign.  He says that he would himself place their grievances before the proper authorities later.

April 6, Cape Town hosts the main tercentenary function of Jan Van Riebeeck's arrival at the Cape.  During the celebrations, the Joint Planning Council holds mass meetings and demonstrations throughout the country in preparation for the Defiance Campaign. The African National Congress and the Transvaal Indian Congress issue a flyer entitled 'April 6: Peoples' Protest Day.

The South African Indian Congress and the African National Congress call for a national stay away receives enthusiastic support.  The Day of Protest is the largest demonstration to date of opposition to white domination.

Six major rallies are held in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Port Elizabeth, Durban, East London, and Cape Town.

In Johannesburg, eager Indian youth set up pointers on main roads directing people to the meeting in Freedom Square, Fordsburg.  By 11am, a large crowd assembles to hear Moroka and Dadoo speak.  Dadoo presents Dr Moroka with a black, green and gold robe.  Walter Sisulu outlines the "Plan of Action" for the Defiance Campaign.   Other speakers were Kotane, ANCYL President Nelson Mandela, D. Bopape, Dan Tloome, and the trade unionist, James Philips.

The main speakers at the Durban meeting at "Red Square" are Dr GM Naicker, "Stalwart" P Simelane, IC Meer, and JN Singh, with Hassan Mall speaking on behalf of the Natal Indian Youth Congress and Manibehn Sita, daughter of Nana Sita, from the Transvaal, making her first speech in Natal.

Walter Sisulu, Dadoo, JB Marks and Yusuf Cachalia travel to the Transkei where they meet the Bhunga.  Members of the Bhunga are impressed with the Defiance Campaign plans that the team outlines and promise their full support.  In the midst of discussions, the Special Branch arrives.  They enquire whether Dadoo and Cachalia have the requisite permits for their entry into the Transkei; which they did not have.  After persistent questioning, the police leave.  The members of the Bhunga are thoroughly intimidated and their enthusiasm diminishes.

April 21, Sisulu and his colleagues then leave for Umtata, in the Transkei.  At Idutywa, the police accost them again as they enter the area without the necessary permission.  After their details are recorded again, they are released.

May 17, At the Transvaal Indian Congress Conference at the Trades Hall in Johannesburg, Nana Sita, the Transvaal Indian Congress President tells delegates that the government is determined to crush the Indian community with measures such as the Group Areas Act.  Referring to the pending Defiance Campaign, he says that Indians are fighting for the rights of all oppressed people in South Africa. The conference, which Dadoo opens, is informed of the plan to enrol ten thousand volunteers and to collect "one million shillings for the Freedom Fund”.

May 25, The Minister of Justice, CR Swart, uses the Suppression of Communism Act to remove Sam Khan and Fred Carneson, the Communist representatives of Africans in the Cape Provincial Council.  Swart bans the Guardian, which promptly reappears as the Clarion.  He orders Party members, among them Kotane, Dadoo, Marks, Bopape and J. N. Ngwevela, to resign from their organisations and not to address political meetings for two years

May 31, The Joint Executive Committee planning meeting of the Congress Alliance is held in New Brighton, Port Elizabeth, at Dr Njongwe’s home.  Even before the Joint Committee meets, the Malan Government bans Dadoo, JB Marks, Moses Kotane, JW Bopape and JM Ngwevela under the Suppression of Communism Act.

At a press conference held at New Brighton, Dr Moroka and Dr Naicker announce that the five banned Congress leaders will defy the Minister's ban on them and that they will be the first volunteers in the Defiance Campaign.  They announce that the Defiance Campaign would begin on 26 June. 

The Joint Planning Council proposes two stages of defiance. The first will see volunteers breaking selected laws such as, entering prescribed areas without permits, using "whites only" facilities such as bathrooms, post office entrances, railway compartments etc. and remaining in town after curfew hours.  The second stage will constitute mass defiance, strikes and industrial actions.  Dadoo is ordered to resign from the South African Indian Congress and the Joint Planning Council within 30 days.

June 1, The African National Congress and the South African Indian Congress National Executive Committees meet in Port Elizabeth to discuss the details of the Defiance Campaign.  At a press conference, chaired by IC Meer, the Joint Planning Council announces that the defiance campaign will begin on June 26

June 5, Dadoo, Ismail Bhoola, JB Marks, and David Bopape, address a gathering in Johannesburg.  They are arrested for defying their bans.  Bram Fischer and A. O'Dowd represent Dadoo in court.  He is sentenced to six months imprisonment. David Bopape, JB Marks and Moses Kotane (arrested on 1 June for a similar offence in Alexandra) are also found guilty, but they are sentenced to four months imprisonment.  Dadoo receives an additional two months because of his previous convictions in respect of his anti-war activities and the 1946 passive resistance.

June 22, This day is declared the Day of Volunteers for the Defiance Campaign.  The first joint mass meeting of the two Congresses takes place in Natal at the Red Square.  Over 8 000 people attend.  Among the speakers is Nelson Mandela, the National Volunteer-in Chief, making his first speech in Durban, explaining the campaign. The African National Congress Youth League leader is now a member of the African National Congress National Executive.  He shares the platform with the Natal Presidents and Secretaries of the African National Congress and the Natal Indian Congress, Chief Albert Luthuli, Dr Monty Naicker, MB Yengwa and Debi Singh. Volunteers pledge to participate in the Defiance Campaign.

June 26, The African National Congress, South African Indian Congress and the Franchise Action Committee officially launch the Defiance Campaign.  The Defiance Campaign begins in Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth.  Over 8 000 people from all racial groups contravene selected discriminatory laws and regulations thereby courting imprisonment.

In Port Elizabeth 33 people under the leadership of Raymond Mhlaba enter a railway station through a, "whites only" entrance and are arrested.

The Action Committee of the African National Congress and the South African Indian Congress select 105 African and Indian volunteers in Johannesburg to launch the Defiance of Unjust Laws Campaign. Nana Sita, President of the Transvaal Indian Congress, addresses them, appealing for them to maintain order.

At the same time Walter Sisulu, Secretary-General of the African National Congress, and Nana Sita, of the Transvaal Indian Congress, leads 50 volunteers to the Boksburg Location from Johannesburg.  The first batch of 25 includes four Indian women. Yusuf Cachalia, Joint Secretary of the South African Indian Congress, delivers a letter to the Chief Magistrate at the Boksburg Magistrate's Court, informing him that volunteers intend entering the Boksburg Location without permits. The deifiers are arrested for conspiring to commit public violence.

JN Singh led the fourteenth defiance batch a week after the Natal Conference of the ANC. JN Singh, the lawyer who had been appearing for the resisters, stood in the dock with his 13 fellow resisters.  The magistrate sentenced them to 14 days' imprisonment with hard labour.

June 27, The Native Laws Amendment Act of 1952 is passed. 

July, Dadoo issues a statement from the dock before being sentenced in the Johannesburg Magistrate's Court for defying his banning orders under the Suppression of Communism Act

On 21 July, The Walter Sisulu and Nana Sita group are taken to court where charges of public violence are dropped. Instead the Africans are convicted for not carrying passes and the Indians for 'entering a Native location'.

July 30, The Government orders raids on the homes of African National Congress and South African Indian Congress members in 16 centres countrywide.

August 12, Twenty leaders are arrested and indicted on a charge, under another section of the Suppression of Communism Act that through the Defiance Campaign they are perpetrating unlawful acts to bring about political, industrial, social, and economic change in the Union.  This by definition of the Act was tantamount to Communism.  Dr Moroka dissociates himself from his fellow trialists.  The trial drags on for five months and all the leaders are found guilty of 'statuary communism'.  Their sentences are suspended.  The accused included Dr. J. S. Moroka, President of the ANC, Walter Sisulu Secretary-General of the ANC, Dr. Y. M. Dadoo, President of the SAIC, and Nelson Mandela, President of ANC Youth League.  JB Marks, D. Bopape, Dan Tloome, James Philips, N Sita, A Kathrada, Molvi Cachalia and Yusuf Cachalia.

August 30, Chief Albert Luthuli issues a statement on the launching of the Defiance Campaign in Natal.  Organisationally the Natal Indian Congress and the African National Congress were facing certain problems, thus Natal joins the campaign after the other Provinces began

August 31, The Defiance Campaign begins in Durban. Over four thousand people march with the resisters from "Red Square" along Pine Street, Grey Street, and West Street to the segregated Berea Road railway station, where they court arrest after entering the "Whites Only" section of the station.  In the first batch, led by Monty Naicker and PH Simelane, was Dr Naicker's colleague from the thirties, AKM Docrat, who had played a pivotal role in the Liberal Study Group, in the Nationalist Bloc and in the numerous court cases against the Kajee-Pather leadership before the takeover of the NIC by the new leadership.

Mrs Fatima Seedat, who had with her husband DA Seedat taken a lead in the work of the progressives in Durban, was also in the batch as was the young Billy Nair.

The 21 who constituted Natal's first batch of Resisters were: Dr GM Naicker,  PH (Stalwart) Simelane; AKM Docrat; Zakariah Gumede; Mrs Fatima Seedat; Teresa Mofekeng; Billy Nair; Reverend JM Sibiya; R Chengan; Michael Mangele; DV Chetty; Ernest Mate; A Vadival; Elson Khanyile; Manny Naidoo; Fanyana Majozi; Abel Nyinde; Mrs Janapathy Singh; Augustine Malinga; Nomuntu Nyukiza; and AC Meer.

September 7, Durban's second batch of 21 resisters goes onto defying the curfew regulations after a mass meeting at the Red Square where MB Yengwa and IC Meer are the chief speakers.

September 18, The Minister of Justice, CR Swarts, announces in Parliament that thirty-three trade union officials and eighty-nine other people are served with notices in terms of the Suppression of Communism Act.

September 22, Thousands of supporters of the 20 liberation movement leaders, who are on trial under the Suppression of Communism Act, demonstrate at the Johannesburg Magistrate's Court during the preliminary trial.

October 10 -12, The Transvaal African National Congress elects Nelson Mandela as President at its conference to replace the banned JB Marks.

The African National Congress notes that the greatest achievement of the Defiance Campaign was the welding of an unbreakable, inseparable unity and singleness of purpose; and the development of a common South African outlook between Indians and Africans

November 1, Dr JLZ Njongwe, President of the Cape African National Congress, opens the Natal African National Congress Conference.  IC Meer receives a standing ovation when he delivers a message on behalf of the Natal Indian Congress.

November, Walter Sisulu, Oliver Tambo, and Yusuf Cachalia discuss the minimal participation of Whites in the Defiance Campaign.  At a meeting convened by the African National Congress and the South African Indian Congress, they address 200 sympathetic White Congress supporters at Darragh Hall, Johannesburg, of their concerns at the lack of participation of White democrats in the Campaign.  They express concerns that this will create a view among Black people that all Whites approve of Malan's racial policies.

November 7, The government bans 52 Black leaders from attending meetings for six months in the Eastern Cape. 

November 8, Police fire on demonstrators in Kimberley.  Fourteen people are killed and 39 wounded.

November 10, A one-day general strike is held in Port Elizabeth to protest police attacks in Kimberley and East London.  The strike is also a protest against the City Council's imposition of a curfew and month-long ban on public meetings.

December 2, The trial of twenty national leaders ends when they are all found guilty.  Mr Justice Rumpff remarks that their offence amounts to statutory communism and imposes a nine-month imprisonment sentence with hard labour, suspended for two years.

December 8, A mixed group of 40 people enter Germiston location in the Witwatersrand area without permits. Patrick Duncan, Manilal Gandhi and the others illegally enter African locations in support of the Defiance Campaign.  They are held for 48 hours at the Germiston Police Station.  The group consisted of three white men, four white women, thirteen Indian men, six Indian women, 12 African men and African women enter Germiston location in the Witwatersrand area without permits.

December 17, Walter Sisulu is served a notification, in terms of section 9 of the Suppression of Communism Act, whereby he is prohibited, for a period of six months, from attending any meeting in the Union of South Africa

December 18 - 20, At the annual African National Congress conference, in Johannesburg, Chief Albert Luthuli is elected President of the African National Congress to replace the disgraced Dr J.S. Moroka.

1953

The Communist Party of South Africa holds its first formal underground conference behind the retail shop of an Indian merchant in a small Eastern Transvaal town.  Twenty-five delegates, representing Communist Party of South Africa cells from all over the country, attend the meeting to officially reconstitute the Communist Party, now renamed the South African Communist Party (SACP).  Yusuf Dadoo is elected Chairman of the Central Committee and Moses Kotane as the Secretary.

Dadoo and Chief Albert Luthuli, the African National Congress, President, are banned again.  The leadership of the South African Indian Congress passes onto Naicker until he, too, is banned.

January, The 58th plenary session of the Indian National Congress, in Hyderabad calls upon "all nations of the world" to support the Defiance of Unjust Laws Campaign. It "noted with deep satisfaction" that Africans, Europeans, people of mixed racial descent and Indians had made common cause in the struggle against "oppression and racial violence.

February, Dr TE Donges, the Minister of the Interior, announces that the National Party Government has decided to abolish the Smuts-Gandhi Agreement of 1914.  The South African Indian Congress responds in a letter to Dr DF Malan, the Prime Minister, perhaps one of the last letters written by the Indian political body in South Africa to the Nationalist government.

February 21, Chief Albert Luthuli opens the annual Natal Indian Congress Conference.  He describes the growing co-operation between the African National Congress and the South African Indian Congress as "our formidable alliance based on a common genuine regard for true democracy".  Chief Luthuli pledges African National Congress support for the Indian people in their struggle against the Government's repatriation policy.

In a message from New York, the singer Paul Robeson says to Dr Monty Naicker, "The heroic struggle of the South African people is an inspiration to us in America and to the oppressed people everywhere. My full solidarity until final victory is won."

April 24, Chief Albert Luthuli calls off the Defiance Campaign after the introduction of the Criminal Amendment Law Act and the Public Safety Act.

May, Monty Naicker, Acting President of the Natal Indian Congress and the South African Indian Congress is banned under the Riotous Assemblies and Criminal Law Amendments Acts prohibiting him from visiting the main centres of the country outside Durban and from attending public gatherings anywhere for 12 months.

June 26, The first anniversary of the launch of the Defiance Campaign is commemorated.

July 18, A message from Moses Kotane, Walter Sisulu, J. B. Marks and Dadoo is read at the unveiling of a memorial to Johannes Nkosi in Durban.  Police killed Nkosi, a Communist leader, during the great anti-pass demonstration in Durban on Dingaan's Day, 1930.

August 20, Bram Fischer is served with two notices under the Suppression of Communism Act, banning him from any gathering for two years, from the membership of the Congress of Democrats and the South African Peace Council as well as 15 other organisations, some of which he is not even a member.

August 22, Bram Fischer beats his banning by recording a message for the inaugural conference of the South African Peace Council where he was to have delivered the opening address.

The President of the Cape African National Congress, Prof Z.K Matthews, in his address to its annual provincial conference in Cradock, proposes the holding of a Congress of the People (COP).

September 12, The South African Coloured People's Organisation (SACPO), later the Coloured People's Congress (CPC), is formed in Cape Town as a successor to the African People's Organisation.  James la Guma is elected President.  Other figures involved were Edgar Deane, Dr Richard van der Ross, S. Rahim, Reg September and John Gomes.

September 26 - 27, Apart from mass meetings, rallies and demonstrations, the Congress Movement uses other methods for mobilising and bringing people together.  One such activity is the Transvaal Youth Festival for Peace, Friendship, and Racial Harmony, held at Mias Farm.  The Transvaal Indian youth Congress plays a prominent role in hosting this event which1 500 people attend.  As it was classified a recreational activity, banned persons such as Dadoo and Kotane could participate.  The highlight of the two-day function is the football match between the veterans and the youth.  Dadoo and Kotane played for the veterans but their enthusiasm far exceeds their prowess with the ball.

October 10, The November 1952 Darragh Hall meeting is hailed as a historic one, which leads to a group of mainly White Communists, committed to the principles of non-racialism, to establish the Congress of Democrats (COD).

December 18 - 20, The Annual Conference of the African National Congress, in Queenstown, Eastern Cape, adopts a proposal to call a Congress of the People (COP) of South Africa.  The COP is to be representative of all the people in the country who will endorse a freedom charter calling for democracy.  The African National Congress resolves to work in concert with the South African Indian Congress, Coloured People’s Organisation and the Congress of Democrats.

1954

February, Dr Winston Z Conco delivers Chief Albert John Luthuli’s (in his absence due to banning) address to the Natal Indian Congress Conference.  The opening address of Walter Sisulu, the African National Congress Secretary General, is a highlight.  In the absence of Monty Naicker, IC Meer delivers the Presidential address on his behalf.  At this conference, on the motion of Debi Singh, seconded by SM Mayet, the Natal Indian Congress becomes a co-sponsor of the Congress of the People. Hassan Mall, the young advocate, moves the vote of thanks.

March, The Joint Planning Committee, later renamed National Action Council (NAC) is established to organise the proposed Congress of the People.  Luthuli is elected Chairman with Walter Sisulu and Yusuf Cachalia, as Joint Secretaries.  The National Action Committee is in close contact with all regions of the country.  The people's demands are submitted to a drafting committee, which in turn consults and receives approval from the regional bodies.  Members of the national drafting committee of the Freedom Charter, based in Johannesburg, consisted of Walter Sisulu, the secretary general of the ANC, Yusuf Ahmed Cachalia, the secretary of the SAIC, Rusty Bernstein of the COD, Duma Nokwe of the ANC and Stanley Lollan of the Coloured People’s Organisation.

March 20 - 21, At a meeting held near Stanger, 40 delegates from opposition organisations listen to the ANC-SAIC proposal and response on the Congress of the People. The presence of Chief Albert Luthuli, banned from gatherings, deems the meeting illegal. The ANC conference sets up a subcommittee to draw up plans according to which the NAC for the COP consisting of eight members from each sponsoring organisations is established.

April 17, The Federation of South African Women (FEDSAW) is formed in Johannesburg.  FEDSAW brings together women from the African National Congress, the South African Indian Congress, the Trade unions, and self-help groups.

May, The NEC's of the African National Congress, South African Indian Congress, the Congress of Democrats, and the South African Coloured People’s Organisation, approve plans for a campaign known as the ”Resist Apartheid Campaign”

June 26, A prelude to the launch of the Congress of the People Campaign in the Transvaal was the Western Areas Day for Campaign and Solidarity and the Resist Apartheid Conference held at the Trades Hall, Johannesburg.

July 9 - 11, The 21st South African Indian Congress Conference takes place under most difficult conditions in Durban.  It is timed so that it takes place within days of the expiry of the one-year ban order on Dr Monty Naicker.

Natal Indian Congress members want Dr Naicker to preside at the historic Conference at which the Congress of the People was to be discussed.  Chief Luthuli opens the Conference, at the Kajee Hall.  It continues on Saturday and Sunday at the Pine Street Madressa. The South African Indian Congress formally adopts the call for the Congress of the People at this conference

August 1, The Natal Indian Congress holds a public farewell meeting, in honour of the departing Indian Commissioner, in Durban.  Dr Naicker presides over the meeting.  One of the main speakers at this meeting is MB Yengwa, who is the Natal Secretary of the African National Congress.  It is a dignified farewell with a large gathering drawn from all sections of the South African population

August, The police carry out raids on the Advance offices in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban.  Advance came into existence after the banning of the Guardian.  In Durban, the homes of Jacqueline Arenstein and DA Seedat are searched and documents in connection with the Freedom Charter are confiscated.  Dadoo's home is also searched in Johannesburg.

August 15, Five members of the Special Branch from Durban and Johannesburg raid the premises, at Fairbreeze on the North Coast of Natal, where a joint meeting of the national representatives of the African National Congress, the South African Indian Congress, the Congress of Democrats and the South African Coloured Peoples Organisation, who were the sponsoring organisations of the Congress of the People.  Chief Luthuli, President-General of the African National Congress, chairs this meeting, to review the campaign in connection with the convening of the Congress of the People.

September, The Natal Congress of the People Conference is held at the Kajee Hall in Durban.  Dr Winston Conco of the African National Congress presides over this Conference where IC Meer delivers the keynote address.  Dr GM Naicker, President of the Natal Indian Congress, Jan Hoogendyk of the Congress of Democrats, Violaine Junod of the Liberal Party of South Africa (LPSA) and Mannie Naidoo of the Trade Union Action Committee also address the meeting.  Three hundred and nine delegates, representing organisations with an aggregate membership of 168,811 participated in this conference.

September, As a tribute to Dadoo, the Transvaal Indian Youth Congress hosts his 45th birthday celebrations.  A picnic is held and due to the Transvaal Indian Youth Congress’s initiative, thousands of messages are sent to Dadoo from all over South Africa.

September 19, The Northern Natal Congress of the People Conference, attended by 238 delegates, is held at Ladysmith under the Chairmanship of Dr AH Sader.  Dr AH Sader contributes greatly towards the formulation of the Freedom Charter.  MP Naicker, the Organising Secretary of the Natal Indian Congress, delivers the keynote address.  The other speakers were MB Yengwa of the ANC, CK Hill of the Liberal Party and H Bhengu, Secretary of the Rosboom Branch of the ANC.

October, AM Kathrada (Kathy) is banned from 39 progressive organisations in South Africa.  The Minister of Justice also imposes a ban prohibiting Kathy from all trade union activities.  A second notice served on him prohibits him from attending any gathering in South Africa and South-West Africa for a period of two years.

October, The Trades and Labour Council is dissolved and the Trades Union Council of South Africa (TUCSA) is established which excludes African unions from membership.

December 5, The Congress of the People holds its regional conference in Pietermaritzburg, attended by 197 delegates.  Robert Resha, African National Congress National Executive member opens the conference.

December 11, Walter Sisulu, together with members from the Transvaal Indian Congress and the African National Congress, meet in Johannesburg, to give instructions to delegates to the African National Congress conference, which is to be held at Pinetown, near Durban.

December 12, Over 400 parents attend a meeting at the Gandhi Hall, Johannesburg under the leadership of Narsi Parbhoo to protest the removal of the Government Indian High School from Booysens to Lenasia, the segregated location for Indians.  A private school is started for affected Indian children.  The Principal of this school is Michael Harmel who holds a Masters Degree.  Harmel, a leading South African Communist Party theoretician, plays a leading role in the Congress of Democrats.

1955

February, Dr M.M Motala is re-elected Chairman of the Natal Indian Congress (Pietermaritzburg), with S.B Mungal and A S Chetty as Joint-Secretaries

March 5, The inaugural conference of the non-racial South African Congress of Trade Unions (SACTU) is held in Johannesburg.

April, The Sub-Committees of the National Action Council begin the arduous task of categorising the peoples’ demands from all over the country to be included in Freedom Charter.

April 18, Moses Kotane and Molvi Cachalia representing the African National Congress and the South African Indian Congress depart for the Bandung Conference, of Asian- African countries in Indonesia, as observers. Dadoo’s message to the Conference reads, “--- mark a historical step forward in the fight for world peace and in the struggle to defeat imperialism and win freedom by the peoples of Africa and Asia”.  They leave the country without passports.

June 25 - 26, About 8 000 people representing the African National Congress, the Congress of Democrats, the South African Indian Congress, the Coloured People’s Congress, and the South African Congress of Trade Unions meet in Kliptown, Soweto at the Congress of the People (COP).  The South African Congress of Trade Unions becomes an active member of the Congress Alliance.  It is represented on the Alliance's National Co-ordinating Committee.  The African National Congress Youth League and Transvaal Indian Youth Congress are active in attending to the delegates’ needs.  The COP adopts the Freedom Charter, which becomes the common programme of the Congresses.

Yusuf Dadoo, Monty Naicker, Albert Luthuli and many other leaders - including Yusuf Cachalia, Nelson Mandela, Oliver Tambo, Ahmed Kathrada, IC Meer, JN Singh, Dr GM Naicker and Fatima Meer are debarred, through banning orders, from attending the launch of the Charter.

Yusuf Dadoo, Chief Albert Luthuli and Father Trevor Huddleston are honoured by being given the Isitwalandwe/Seaparankoe Award, the nation's highest honour, for their contribution to the struggle for freedom and democracy.  Dadoo’s mother accepted the award on his behalf since he was unable to attend due to his banning orders.  Chief Luthuli was unable to attend due to his banning orders also and Mrs. Luthuli collected the award on his behalf.

The 2 844 elected delegates eventually adopt the Freedom Charter.  The police arrive fully armed, interrupting the second day of the Congress of the People.  They storm the meeting taking down banners, posters and the names of every delegate present as well as photographing them.  This does not dampen the spirits of the delegates present. Ida Mtwana leads the delegates in singing freedom songs.

 August, The National Action Council decides that the Freedom Charter be endorsed by gaining a million signatures to it and launches a campaign for this purpose.  The Transvaal Indian Congress is very involved in this campaign and together with the African National Congress, South African Coloured People’s Organisation and Congress of Democrats calls a mass conference at the Trades Hall in September to gain the Transvaal quota of signatures

August 28, At a meeting at Bharat Hall, Durban, the Working Committee of the Natal Indian Congress, approves the formation of the National Joint Consultative Committee to popularise the Freedom Charter.

September 18, Members of the African National Congress, the South African Congress of Trade Unions and the South African Communist Party meet at the Trades Hall, Commissioner Street, Johannesburg, to discuss the Freedom Charter and the way forward.

October 2, The Reverend Arthur Blaxall opens the anti-Group Areas Act Conference attended by 16 organisations at Mayville, Durban.  The Conference appoints Natal Indian Congress persons on the Co-ordinating Committee with VSM Pillay as Chairman, Harry R Deoduth, Secretary and T Nabbie, Treasurer.

October 27, The Federation of South African Women co-ordinates a march of 2 000 women of all races in Pretoria, to deliver a petition of their demands (lack of social services, housing, schools and threat of the extension of passes to women) to the Prime Minister, J.G. Strijdom.

December 17- 18, Lillian Ngoyi is the first women to be elected to the African National Congress’s National Executive Council.  During the African National Congress annual national conference in Bloemfontein, Africanists launch a determined attack on all sections of the Freedom Charter, which accepts multiracialism.

1956

January 12, Dadoo appeals to readers of New Age, published in Cape Town, to donate money and organise fund raising activities to keep the newspaper alive.

March 31 - April 1, At a special conference, despite disruptions by Africanists in attendance, the African National Congress adopts the Freedom Charter.

August 9, Lillian Ngoyi, President of the Federation of South African Women, leads a women's national anti-pass march to the Union Buildings in Pretoria to protest against the Pass Laws.

August 25 – 26, The Transvaal Indian Congress holds a conference at Gandhi Hall, to discuss the Group Areas Act.  Dadoo issues a statement calling on Indians to stand resolute in order to defend their homes, properties and livelihoods.  He calls on Indians to ignore orders to move to the designated Indian area, Lenasia, some 30 kilometres outside Johannesburg.  Over 1 500 Indians attend this Conference.

October 19 - 22, The South African Indian Congress at its 22nd conference states, “The Freedom Charter ---- reflected the true aims of the overwhelming majority of the people of our country – no one dare disregard it and no political organisation can succeed without satisfying these aims and any effort to thwart them will be defeated by the people.”  Dadoo, the President is banned and unable to participate openly.  Dr Monty Naicker’s Presidential Address is also read out to the meeting as he is by now under banning orders and unable to attend or address any gathering.

December 5, One hundred and fifty six leaders of the Congress Movement are arrested, nationwide, on a charge of High Treason.  After a trial lasting over four years, they are found not guilty and discharged on March 1961.

1957

Dadoo is banned for a further five years from attending gatherings.

The Immorality Amendment Act, Act No 23 of 1957, is passed.

The South African Congress of Trade Unions (SACTU) organises workers' strikes and industrial action around the country.

February 10, The South African Congress of Trade Unions convenes a Workers' Conference.  The conference calls for A-Pound-a-Day national minimum wage campaign to be launched.

1958

March 16, A national workers’ conference in Johannesburg calls for a stay-at-home from April 14 in protest against Apartheid laws, passes for women and in support for the demand for a national minimum wage of £1 a day.  The Congress Alliance organises a general work stoppage to coincide with the Parliamentary elections in which only Whites could vote.

November 1 – 2, A group of Africanists disrupt the Transvaal African National Congress Conference.  Chief Luthuli challenges the leader of the group, Madzunya, who eventually leaves the hall followed by his supporters

December 13 – 14, Over 200 delegates attending the African National Congress annual conference in Durban pass a resolution in support of the Freedom Charter and the Congress Alliance.  The Conference calls for mass action against the pass laws and the stepping up of the economic boycott from all African countries.

1959

Dadoo, a cricket fan, is also the Patron of the Witwatersrand Indian Cricket Union (WICU).  In this year, the Transvaal Indian Congress launches a campaign against the proposed visit of Frank Worrell’s West Indies team, as it encourages the Government’s apartheid policy.  A small section of WICU officials want to “keep politics out of sports”.  To show their resentment for any action against the tour they depose Dadoo from the panel of Patrons of the WICU.  In his place they appoint the Captain of the West Indies team as a patron.  He is reinstated in the late 1960s.

April 4 - 6, An Africanist group breaks away from the African National Congress to form the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania (PAC) in Orlando, Soweto under the leadership of Robert Sobukwe.

May 30 - 31, The African National Congress begins to organise a boycott against purchasing potatoes as a protest against the inhuman treatment of farm labourers in Bethal, Eastern Transvaal

June 26, The African National Congress launches the potato boycott.

July, Robert Sobukwe, President of the Pan Africanist Congress, announces that the Pan Africanist Congress will launch a campaign against the pass laws in August.

October, The first edition of the quarterly publication, The Communist Manifesto, makes its appearance.  Rusty Bernstein first moots the idea for the magazine.

December 12 – 13, The African National Congress holds its conference in Durban.  About 8 000 people attend the opening session at Curries Fountain, the home of non-racial sport.  Later, three hundred and eighty six delegates attend the closed sessions, at the Bantu Social Centre in Beatrice Street.  The Conference resolves to intensify the Anti Pass Campaign, to begin on 31 March 1960, and the economic boycott.  Prior to the campaign reaching its climax on 26 June, deputations would be sent to the authorities.

December 19 – 20, The Pan Africanist Congress National Executive Committee submits a report at its conference in Orlando, Johannesburg.  The Conference orders its President, Robert Sobukwe, to call upon the African nation to take decisive, positive action against the Pass Laws.

Last updated : 08-Oct-2018

This article was produced by South African History Online on 25-Sep-2018

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