Monday, 28 October 2013

Surf, Sex ,Violence 85 -86 (1)

State of Emergency

Serious political violence was a prominent feature of South Africa from 1985 to 1989, as black townships became the focus of the struggle between anti-apartheid organisations and the Botha government. Throughout the 1980s, township people resisted apartheid by acting against the local issues that faced their particular communities. The focus of much of this resistance was against the local authorities and their leaders, who were seen to be supporting the government. By 1985, it had become the ANC's aim to make black townships "ungovernable" (a term later replaced by "people's power") by means of rent boycotts and other militant action. Numerous township councils were overthrown or collapsed, to be replaced by unofficial popular organisations, often led by militant youth. People's courts were set up, and residents accused of being government agents were dealt extreme and occasionally lethal punishment. Black town councillors and policemen, and sometimes their families, attacked with petrol bombs, beatan, and murdered by necklacing, where a burning tyre was placed around the victim's neck.

On 20 July 1985, State President P.W. Botha declared a State of Emergency in 36 magisterial districts. Areas affected were the Eastern Cape, and the PWV region ("Pretoria, Witwatersrand, Vereeniging"). Three months later the Western Cape was included as well. An increasing number of organisations were banned or listed (restricted in some way); many individuals had restrictions such as house arrest imposed on them. During this state of emergency about 2,436 people were detained under the Internal Security Act. This act gave police and the military sweeping powers. The government could implement curfews controlling the movement of people. The president could rule by decree without referring to the constitution or to parliament. It became a criminal offence to threaten someone verbally or possess documents that the government perceived to be threatening. It was illegal to advise anyone to stay away from work or oppose the government. It was illegal, too, to disclose the name of anyone arrested under the State of Emergency until the government saw fit to release that name. People could face up to ten years' imprisonment for these offences. Detention without trial became a common feature of the government's reaction to growing civil unrest and by 1988, 30,000 people had been detained. Thousands were arrested and many were interrogated and tortured.

On 12 June 1986, four days before the ten-year anniversary of the Soweto uprising, the state of emergency was extended to cover the whole country. The government amended thePublic Security Act, expanding its powers to include the right to declare "unrest" areas, allowing extraordinary measures to crush protests in these areas. Severe censorship of the press became a dominant tactic in the government's strategy and television cameras were banned from entering such areas. The state broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) provided propaganda in support of the government. Media opposition to the system increased, supported by the growth of a pro-ANC underground press within South Africa.

The state of emergency continued until 1990, when it was lifted by State President F.W. de Klerk

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