Home Themes Gallery Timeline Glossary Links Copyright

Militarisation & Repression: Siyaya noba kubi


[For more information on individual posters, click or hover over images]

TOWARDS A JUST PEACE: FEED TEACH HOUSE EMPLOY  AL2446_0310  produced by the ECC at STP, Johannesburg. This poster outlines the basic demands that would be met in a peaceful societyWAT SOEK JY IN DIE TOWNSHIPS TROEPIE? AL2446_1352 - produced by the ECC, Johannesburg. This poster questions the existence of the soldiers in townships. AL2446_2549 TROOPS OUT OF THE TOWNSHIPS : NO APARTHEID WAR   produced by the ECC in 1984, Johannesburg. This poster was produced to protest the presence of troops in the townships. SIPHIWO MTIMKULU : STUDENT LEADER : DETAINED. POISONED. MISSING.  AL2446_2055  -  produced by the Media Committee at the University of Cape Town. This poster refers to Siphiwe Mtimkulu who disappeared after alleging that he was poisoned by police while in detention. He is still missing. This poster exposes the atrocities of the Namibian war, which was part of a series used at a guerrilla theatre in shopping centres in the Western Cape.

We will continue, despite the hardships

WE CALL FOR AN END TO CONSCRIPTION : WE CALL FOR A JUST PEACE IN OUR LAND  AL2446_0192  	This poster is silkscreened red, green, yellow and black, produced by the ECC in 1985, Johannesburg. This poster depicts the ECC condemning conscription and social injustice.JUNE 1 1987 : INTERNATIONAL CHILDREN'S DAY : IN SOUTH AFRICA MORE THAN 1400 CHILDREN ARE AT PRESENT BEING HELD IN DETENTION 	AL2446_1666   produced by Molo Songololo at the Community Arts Project (CAP), Cape Town. This image refers to the International Children’s Day poster protests against the number of children in South African prisons.

During the 1980s, repression was rife throughout South Africa: in education, with children controlled on their school grounds by security forces; in political life, with political organisations banned and restricted; in the workplace, with labour laws aimed at limiting union activity; in community life, where people protesting against issues such as rent increases were shot down in cold blood; in the media; in cultural life; in the churches and in the courts. Thousands of political activists, unionists, youth and school children risked harassment, long periods of detention without trial, and even death at the hands of the apartheid state.

 

 

Mannetjie, didn't they tell you? Cadets maak malletjies    AL2446_0064  produced by the ECC at STP, Cape Town. This poster was produced as a warning about the long-term implications of cadet training in schools.EINDIG NASIONALE DIENSPLIG: END CONSCRIPTION CAMPAIGN  AL2446_0289  produced by the ECC in 1986, Johannesburg. This bilingual poster called for an end to national service.

To prop up the apartheid system the Nationalist government introduced stringent security laws, which increased in harshness and sophistication over the decades. Legislation gave the state wide powers to detain opponents without trial, and to ban people, organisations, gatherings and publications. Under these laws, people could be held in prison for interrogation, as potential witnesses for the state, or as a 'preventative measure'. Access to lawyers and family could be denied and detainees could be kept in solitary confinement indefinitely. Detainees had little if any protection, and many detainees testified to torture and assault. (Security legislation was modified in 1991 to remove many of its most repressive measures.) Over 70 people have died in detention since 1963. (Statistics provided by the Human Rights Commission.)

 

But who killed Neil, mama Sssssssshhh! sleep and grow strong. Who, mama...? His own clothing, that's what was blamed. So thula, thula, now quiet my child. AL2446_0642  produced by STP in 1984, Johannesburg. This poster refers to a verse from a poem about death in detention.

During the States of Emergency from 1985 to 1990, the state granted itself even further-ranging powers of detention. Over 52 000 people were detained during this time, some of them for three consecutive years. Over 25% of those detained were children, and at times a far higher percentage of detainees were minors.

 

 Ironically, detainees were themselves instrumental in exerting pressure for their release. At the beginning of 1989, one group of long-term detainees after another went on hunger strike, vowing to fast to the death if necessary. With the outside world watching, they gained their freedom one by one, although most were released under severe restrictions.


The releases did not stop the system of detention without trial .But they did lead to the nationwide Defiance Campaign of 1989, in which the Mass Democratic Movement mobilised increasingly effective pressure for change.

 

BOTHA EK'S GATVOL  AL2446_0356  produced by the ECC in 1987, Johannesburg. This poster depicts the increased anger against conscription.VIGIL TO SUPPORT IVAN TOMS : ON TRIAL AS A CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTOR - AL2446_0360 - produced by the ECC in 1987, Johannesburg. This poster refers to a vigil to support Ivan Toms, who was on trial as a conscientious objector.WHERE'S THE BORDER NOW? SADF GET OUT- AL2446_0357 - produced by the ECC at the STP, Cape Town.This poster calls for the SADF to get out of the neighboring countries.NO apartheid war : HANDS OFF CROSSROADS - AL2446_1962 - produced by the ECC at the CAP, Cape Town. This poster denounces the SADF's occupation of Crossroads.

AL2446_0329 A CIVIL WAR IS NOT VERY RELAXING     produced by the ECC, Johannesburg. This poster uses the image of Picasso's 'Guernica', created to express his anguish at the Spanish Civil War, as a means of bringing home the horror of civil strife in South Africa.

Emergency regulations virtually outlawed any form of political activity that might challenge the state. Thirty-two organisations were effectively banned in 1988: boycott actions were prohibited; protest campaigns were forbidden. Police, using teargas, sjamboks, birdshot, rubber bullets and live ammunition continually broke up marches and demonstrations; authorities often proscribed funerals, dictating when and where they could be held and how many mourners could attend. Meetings and conferences were banned, and newspapers closed down for months on end.

 

ALEX MASSACRE AL2446_0110   produced in 1986. This poster depicts a rally in Alexandra following a polica massacre of residents in the township by police. HOW LONG MUST WE KEEP ON DYING IN THIS WAY ?  AL2446_1059  This poster depicts people crying out against apartheid murders.

 

 

The law was used with explicitly repressive intent. Political trials were employed to hamstring democratic leaders, with one central figure after another getting caught up in the snares of treason trials running for months, sometimes years. Bail was usually denied. Many leaders were found not guilty, after years in prison awaiting trial.

 

 

 

RELEASE OUR PEOPLE : RALLY  AL2446_0186  produced by DESCOM, DPSC and the UDF in 1985. This poster was produced to advertise a rally in Evaton, a Vaal Triangle township.TROJAN HORSE Interfaith Commemoration Service AL2446_1646  produced by BEYCO, Cape Town. This poster was produced to advertise a commemoration service for those who died in the "Trojan Horse Massacre" - a police ambush during the state of emergency in which 3 young people were killed and 13 others injured on Thornton Road in Athlone, Cape Town on October 15, 1985.Many thousands of people engaging in marches and demonstrations, including children, were arrested and charged with criminal offences. Relatively few cases actually resulted in convictions, but when sentences were imposed they were harsh. The application of the doctrine of common purpose is an example, as in the case of the 'Sharpeville Six'. This group was sentenced to death on the basis that they had formed part of a group which was present at the killing of a community councillor. The sentence was later commuted to life imprisonment after the moratorium on the death penalty in February 1991. By mid-1991 some of this group had been released.

 

 

 

SAVE THE PATRIOTS : We say to the government : STOP THESE KILLINGS 	AL2446_1711    created by the Port Elizabeth Inter-organisation Media Committee. This poster demanded an end to the proposed hangings of a number of political prisoners.

STOP THE CALL-UP AL2446_1452  produced by the ECC, Cape Town. This poster depicts a sinister figure masked with the colours of the South African flag. This image symbolises what the ECC fought against.

SIMON TEMBUYISE MNDAWE; He lived and died for the STRUGGLE AL2446_2565   The poster depicts an image of Simon Tembuyise Mndawe, a struggle fighter who was detained and hanged in his cell at the Nelspruit police station on 9th March 1983.

South Africa also has one of the worst records in the world for capital punishment — 627 prisoners were executed in the five years from 1983 to 1987. But apartheid's legal repressive structures have been increasingly underpinned by more sinister covert forces such as hit-squads, within the country and beyond our borders. Their actions range from irritating harassment to the cold-blooded murder of individuals and groups: their activities include smear pamphlets, bomb threats, slashed vehicle tyres, dead animals on te doorsteps of activists' homes, bricks or teargas canisters thrown into homes or offices, arson, burglaries, kidnapping and assassination. These hit-squads, operating from within the police, the army and local government structures, appear to be badly controlled and ill-informed, but well-armed and well-protected against exposure. They appear to have been responsible for over 50 assassinations of political activists since 1977. 

 

BOTHA'S EMERGENCY LEGALIZED MURDER - AL2446_3554 - produced by the UDF at the CAP, Cape Town. This poster refers to the UDF expressing their opposition to the State of Emergency and the repressive actions of the SAFD troops in the townships.

DAVID WEBSTER: fought for democracy murdered by apartheid - AL2446_1029 - produced by the David Webster Funeral Committee. This poster depicts human rights activist David Webster, who was assassinated outside his home on May Day 1989.DON'T HANG THERESA IMPRISONMENT SHALL ONLY... VENGEANCE(FREEDOM CHARTER	AL2446_2591  produced by the Cape Youth Congress (CAYCO) at the Community Arts Project (CAP), Cape Town. This poster relates to the Cape Youth Congress (CAYCO) opposing the death sentence imposed on one of the Sharpeville Six.

Vigilante groups were also covertly and overtly supported by security forces against communities resisting local authorities. They have been used particularly brutally in the bantustans and in rural Natal, but also in urban communities.

Thousands of people have died in this violence over the last five years of apartheid; recent evidence has implicated the security forces directly in its instigation and in actual attacks. 

 SUPPORT SHARPEVILLE SIX : WE WILL NOT ALLOW THEM TO HANG! : DOWN WITH PUPPETS : AWAY WITH APARTHEID : FORWARD TO PEOPLES POWER  AL2446_0187  produced by the UDF. This poster refers to the Sharpeville Six, who were sentenced to death for a political killing under the 'common purpose' doctrine; they were eventually reprieved, but given long jail sentences.

Hamba Kahle Comrade Anton : Solidarity with Namibia : Victoria e certa   AL2446_1275   produced by the Namibia Solidarity Committee, South Africa. This poster depicts Anton Lubowski, a leading SWAPO member, who was assassinated during the run-up to Namibian independence.

Hamba Kahle Comrade Jabu : The Struggle for Peace Continues : Umzabalazo Woxolo Uyaqubheka  AL2446_1536  produced by NUMSA. This poster depicts Jabu Ndlovu, a NUMSA official, who was killed at her home after returning from a national NUMSA meeting.

From 1986 onwards, the state co-ordinated its repressive strategy through the National Security Management System. This structure, presided over by the State Security Council consisting of cabinet ministers and senior military and police officers, formed a countrywide network of Joint Management Centres (JMCs) made up of security police, army personnel and invited members of local government and community. JMCs gathered information on organisations and local activists, attempted to counteract their activities by various means, and co-ordinated local security forces. Evidence also links them to hit-squads and vigilante activities.

 

	SAVE THE 32 : GIVE THEM FREEDOM FOR LIFE : DON'T LET THEM HANG  AL2446_0142  issued by South African Youth Congress (SAYCO) in 1988.NEIL: 1953-1982   AL2446_0545  This is a silkscreened poster in black with green and brown camouflage dealing with the death of Neil Aggett in detention.PRESS IS GAGGED AL2446_1037  This poster depicts the struggle for free media, it argued that people had to find other ways to get their message across.

The cost of the struggle for real democracy in South Africa has been high. Thousands of lives have been ruined, thousands have been killed. Armed with immense legislative and military powers, the authorities have not flinched from crushing opposition. Where the law has not sufficed, they have stepped outside it with monstrous brutality and the arrogance of the unaccountable.    

 

 

The End Conscription Campaign

END CONSCRIPTION : STOP DESTROYING OUR SCHOOLS - AL2446_1268 - produced by the Namibian National Students Organisation (NANSO) at the Community Arts Project (CAP), Cape Town. This poster relates to the anti-conscription forces who protested against the South African Defense Force’s (SADF) destruction of Namibian schools.

Soldiers OUT of the Schools! : TIE A YELLOW RIBBON AGAINST A CIVIL WARWomen Against Oppression! - AL2446_0285 - produced by the ECC in 1986, Johannesburg. This poster was produced to condemn the presence of the SADF in schools.

At the end of the 1960s, compulsory military conscription for all white males was introduced in South Africa. The apartheid government needed an army ready and prepared to defend its policies against resistance both inside the country and across its borders. Until 1983, opposition to conscription was muted and limited. But late that year, the Black Sash civil liberties group publicly called for an end to compulsory conscription and in response, the End Conscription Campaign (ECC) was formed. Its central demand was for the right of conscripts to choose not to serve in the South African Defence Force (SADF).  

 

WE CALL FOR A JUST PEACE IN OUR LAND : WE BELIEVE THAT IT IS THE MORAL RIGHT OF SOUTH AFRICANS TO EXERCISE FREEDOM OF CONSCIENCE AND CHOOSE NOT TO SERVE IN THE SADF : WE CALL FOR AN END TO CONSCRIPTION AL2446_0318   produced by the ECC, Cape Town This poster depicts conscripts who demanded the right not to serve in the SADF.

 

The ECC was established as a coalition of many human rights, student, religious and women's groups, all opposed to conscription and militarisation, and committed to working for a just peace in South Africa. The organisation campaigned around the fundamental belief that no person should be forced either to take up arms, or to take life. In South Africa, this stand was specifically linked to the role the SADF played in the townships within the country and in neighbouring states.   

 


he End Conscription Campaign supports PHILIP WILKINSON: APARTHEID WAR RESISTOR: "I cannot serve in an Apartheid army fighting fellow South Africans...." - AL2446_0294 - produced by the ECC, Johannesburg. This poster was produced to support the conscientious objector Philip Wilkinson.PEACE NOW: SADF OUT - AL2446_0295 - produced by the ECC at the STP, Johannesburg. This peace poster called for the removal of the SADF troops from Namibia.SADF HANDS OFF OUR NEIGHBOURS - AL2446_0566 - produced by the Projects Committee, Wits, Johannesburg in 1985. This poster refers to a call for a day of protest over SADF killings in Lusaka, highlighting talks between the ANC and others from the business community to student groupings. ANGOLA INFORMATION MEETING - AL2446_0288 - produced by the ECC, Johannesburg. This poster announces an Angola Information meeting with speakers, Van Zyl Slabbert and Peter Vale.

 

	Portrait of an unjust war : Andreas Kapitingo - spitroasted! : Third degree burns, right arm lost; Koevoet perpetrators charged- On conviction, each fined R50 : NO TO THE WAR IN NAMIBIA - AL2446_0483 - produced by the Student Union for Christian Action (SUCA), Cape Town. This poster exposes the atrocities of the Namibian war, which was part of a series used at a guerilla theatre in shopping centres in the Western Cape.NAMIBIA, S.A.'S VIETNAM - AL2446_0353 - produced by the ECC, Johannesburg. This poster protests the SADF's role in Namibia, and points out parallels with the USA's Involvement in Vietnam.

The ECC argued that the SADF's primary role should be to serve the interests of a lSouth Africans. Instead, it was being used to defend the system of apartheid against the legitimate aspirations of the majority of South Africa's people, as well as those of the people of Namibia and the rest of Southern Africa.

The ECC identified itself with the cause of the oppressed and sought to contribute to the struggle for liberation. It called for the withdrawal of the SADF from Namibia, Angola and South Africa's townships. for an end to the increasing militarisation of all aspects of South African society, for conscientious objectors to have the right to do alternative national service, and for a just peace in South Africa

 

 SOME PEOPLE GO TO LUSAKA TO TALK...... : THE SADF GOES TO KILL : DAY OF PROTEST - AL2446_1552 This poster shows how the SADF was told to keep out of neighbouring states.

ZAMBIA BOTSWANA ZIMBABWE .... STOP SADF TERROR - AL2446_0358 - produced by the ECC, Johannesburg. This poster demanded an end to the SADF raids into neighbouring countries.

 

Conscription directly affected the white population, giving the ECC a different constituency from most anti-apartheid groups. It therefore had to use new tactics. Conventional political activities like mass meetings, seminars and press conferences were complemented by fun runs, fairs, kite-flying and street theatre. There were cultural events like rock concerts, art exhibitions, film festivals and cabaret. Tens of thousands of colourful stickers, T-shirts, posters and pamphlets were produced. Strong campaigns of support for jailed objectors were mounted.

 

 

 The Fighting Spirit of Samora Machel Lives On: VIVA FRELIMO! - AL2446_0138 - produced in 1986, for the UDF, Johannesburg. This poster commemorates the death of Mozambican president Samora Machel.

	December 16 to 26 ; Xmas against the Emergency! AL2446_0162 -  produced by the UDF for the Campaign for National United Action, Johannesburg. This post

This dynamic style of campaigning allowed a broad range of people to express their unhappiness with conscription — parents whose sons faced call-ups, school and university students, English-speaking churches, radical Afrikaners, and artists, musicians and actors.

By working among whites against two crucial aspects of the maintenance of apartheid — conscription and the SADF — the ECC won acclaim in the black community, which saw ECC campaigns as contributing to building non-racialism. ECC cooperated closely with mass organisations such as the United Democratic Front and its affiliates, and undertook community upliftment projects in black areas to demonstrate solidarity with township residents.

 

July 1985: News Headlines : What is going on in our country? : No to apartheid death squads! - AL2446_1027 -  produced for JODAC, the ECC, NEUSA, DESCOM and the DPSC, by the STP in 1985, Johannesburg. This poster raised awareness of death squads.STOP Le Grange BILLS! JUNE 16 : AWAY WITH BANTU EDUC. : FORWARD TO PEOPLE'S EDUCATION : RALLY : ALEX STADIUM - AL2446_1691 - produced by DESCOM, Johannesburg. This poster was produced to protest the introduction by the then Minister of Law and Order of laws further suppressing democratic rights. STOP APARTHEID KILLINGS : THEIR STRUGGLE CONTINUES... : MATTHEW GONIWE : FORT CALATA : SICELO MHLAULI : SPARROW MKHONTO - AL2446_1359  - produced by SASPU National, Johannesburg. This poster depicts fours Eastern Cape community leaders, Matthew Goniwe, Fort Calata, Sicelo Mhlawuli and Sparrow Mkhonto, who were assassinated by 'unknown persons'.COMMEMORATION SERVICE : BRIAN MBULELO MAZIBUKO : WE STILL REMEMBER YOU COMRADE - AL2446_1190  produced by the Moya Youth Movement (Tembisa) at the Screen Training Project (STP), Johannesburg. This image depicts the youth group commemorating the death of activist Brian Mbulelo Mazibuko

 

STOP THE VAAL / EAST RAND MASSACRE  AL2446_1507  produced by the Vall youth at STP, Johannesburg.This poster demanded an end to the killings in the Vaal and East Rand.

FREE ALL DETAINEES : LIFT THE STATE OF EMERGENCY AL2446_0112  produced by the Hunger Strikers Committee in 1989. This poster demande the lifting of the State of Emergency and the release of all detainees following a widespread hunger strike.

 

 

The government accused the ECC of being a 'communist', 'subversive' organisation contributing to the 'revolutionary onslaught' against South Africa by undermining the army and encouraging conscripts to disobey their call-ups. By the mid-1980s, the ECC was experiencing an endless stream of state harassment. Its meetings and publications were banned, its activists were detained without trial or subjected to intense harassment, and its offices were raided by security police. In 1988, it was restricted.   

 

STOP SADF AND POLICE BRUTALITY : QUEENSTOWN MASSACRE 17 NOVEMBER 1985 : MEET OUR DEMANDS  AL2446_0067 produced for the Queenstown community at the Screen Training Project (STP), Johannesburg. This image refers to Queenstown, in the Northern Cape, which was the scene of one of many massacres of anti-apartheid activists in a confrontation with the army and police.

 REMEMBER ... SHARPEVILLE REMEMBER ... UITENHAGE MARCH 21 1960 1985 REMEMBER ... THE SHARPEVILLE SIX THEY WILL NOT HANG : FORWARD TO PEOPLES' POWER! AL2446_1470  produced for the United Democratic Front (UDF) by the Screen Training Project (STP), Johannesburg. This poster refers to the massacres in Sharpeville and Uitenhage which both took place on 21 March, although 25 years apart.

This repression in no way dampened the ECC's spirit, however. Today it still mounts campaigns against compulsory military service and has done much to assist exiles returning after the unbanning of the ANC and other organisations on 2 February 1990.  

 

 

Link to SAHA End Conscription Campaign (ECC) Virtual Exhibition

© SAHA 2020 Disclaimer Privacy Policy