General South African History Timeline: 1950s
General South African History Timeline: 1900s
Table of contents:
- General South African History Timeline: 1910s
- General South African History Timeline: 1920s
- General South African History Timeline: 1930s
- General South African History Timeline: 1940s
- General South African History Timeline: 1950s
- General South African History Timeline: 1960s
- General South African History Timeline: 1970s
- General South African History Timeline: 1980s
- General South African History Timeline: 1990s
General South African History Timeline: 1950s
- In Fietas, Johannesburg, the Transvaal Indian Congress (TIC) initiates and implements the 'Decade of Defiance'.
- Florence Matomela leads an anti-pass demonstration resulting in the burning of passes in Port Elizabeth.
- Nelson Mandela succeeds Peter Mda as the new president of African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL).
- Walter Sisulu's book ' South Africa Behind Bars' is handed out among the representatives of the different countries during the session of the United Nation Organisations (UNO).
- Sonia Bunting joins the Guardian Newspaper after the banning of the Communist Party of South Africa.
- January, A crowd of Blacks in Newclare, Johannesburg attack a Black policeman attempting to arrest an African civilian allegedly in position of liquor.
- 6 January - 8 January, The last conference of the Communist Party of South Africa (CPSA) before its dissolution is held in Johannesburg. It attacks the African National Congress (ANC) Programme of Action.
- March, Dr A.B. Xuma resigns from the African National Congress (ANC) national Executive Committee (NEC) after his differences with the ANC Youth League.
- 26 March, The Defend Free Speech Convention in Johannesburg proclaims May 1st as Freedom Day and calls on all organisations to go into demonstrations
- May, Dr Yusuf Dadoo calls for a broad anti-nationalist front to oppose anti-apartheid laws such as the Group Areas Act.
May, Sam Kahn and Dr Yusuf Dadoo have restrictions placed on them in terms of the Riotous Assemblies Act. They are prevented from speaking in eight major centres.
- 1 May, A general strike against all discriminatory laws and for full franchise rights for all is held. Police opens fire in the Alexandra Township and other areas on the Reef, killing 18 and wounding 30 people.
- 5 May - 6 May, An emergency meeting of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of South Africa (CPSA) is held to discuss the impending Unlawful Organisations Bill.
- 12 May, The Immorality Amendment Act No 21 of 1950 is passed.
- 14 May, The African National Congress (ANC) Working Committee summons an emergency conference. The Conference is attended by the representatives from the following organisations: South African Indian Congress (SAIC), A.P.O, ANC Youth League, Council of Non-European Trade Unions and the Communist Party of South Africa. After a lengthy discussion on the Unlawful Organisations Bill and the Group Areas Bill the Conference manage to adopt a resolution accepted by all represented organisations.
- 21 May, The African National Congress (ANC) National Executive Committee (NEC) meets at Thaba 'Nchu and decides to call a national one-day stay at home protest on 26 June.
- 11 June, The African National Congress (ANC) and the South African Indian Congress (SAIC) decide to proclaim a "National Day of Mourning", on 26 June, with a countrywide stay-at-home strike. They favour a stay-at-home strike and prayer because of the shootings on 1 May.
- 18 June, Walter Sisulu addresses a meeting at New Brighton, Port Elizabeth and tells the Blacks about the decision that everyone should stay away from their work on 26 June 1950 as a sign of protest against the "Notorious Bill of the Malan Government" Unlawful Organisations Bill.
- 20 June, The Communist Party of South Africa declares that it dissolves itself a few days before the government passed the Suppression of Communism Act, No. 44 of 1950.
- 26 June, The Suppression of Communism Act, No. 44 of 1950, according to which, the South African Communist Party declared illegal is approved in parliament. It came into force on 17 July 1950.
- A Day of National Protest and Mourning is held countrywide. June 26 is observed as South African Freedom Day, until 1994, when the date of the first democratic elections, 27 April, became an official public holiday known as Freedom Day.
- 7 July, The Group Areas Act, Act No 41 of 1950, is passed
- 7 July,The Population Registration Act, Act No 30 of 1950, is passed.
- 17 July,The Suppression of Communism Act, No. 44 of 1950, passed on 26 June comes into force.
- 20 August, Walter Sisulu officiates at a meeting held in Lady Selborne, a non-white township in Pretoria.
- 30 September - 2 October, Walter Sisulu speaks at the congress of the Transvaal branch of the African National Congress (ANC), held at Springs.
- 12 November, J.B Marks is elected Transvaal President of African National Congress (ANC). A conservative "National Minded Bloc" under the leadership of R.V Selope Thema breaks away in a protest against his election. Thema did not trust neither Dr J Moroka nor the Communists
- 2 December, The General Assembly of the United Nations declares, "a policy of 'racial segregation' (apartheid) is necessarily based on doctrines of racial discrimination". [Resolution 395(V)]
- 6 December, Walter Sisulu acts as one of the speakers at a meeting of the South African Peace Movement in the Ambagsaal, Johannesburg. The other speakers are Dr Y. M. Dadoo and Michael Harmel
- Sonia Bunting attends the World Youth Congress in Berlin as part of a delegation led by Ahmed Kathrada
- Cissie Gool appears before the Cape Town magistrate for holding a public meeting. She also becomes active in the Franchise Action Council, the forerunner of the South African Coloured Peoples Organisation.
- The Bantu/Native Building Workers Act, Act No 27 of 1951 is passed.
- The President of African People Organisation (APO), S.M Rahim resigns in disgust and join the Franchise Action Council (FRAC). He declares the APO a moribund organisation
- February, The Franchise Action Council is formed in Cape Town
- 1 March, Dr. F Malan announces the Separate Representation of Voters Bill to remove Coloureds from the common voters roll in Cape.
- May, The War Veterans Torch Commandos, consisting largely of white ex-servicemen opposing government march to the parliament to protest against the Separate Representation of Voters Bill.
- 7 May, The Franchise Action Council launch one-day work and school stay away in Cape Town to protest against the Separate Representation of Voters Bill.
- 30 May, Chief Luthuli succeeds A.W.G Champion as the president of the African National Congress in Natal.
- June, Pixley Seme, a founder member and treasure-general of the African National Congress (ANC) in 1912, dies
- June, The Separate Representation of Voters Bill is enacted
- 15 June - 17 June, The African National Congress (ANC) National Executive Committee (NEC) meets to deliberate further on what actions to take in expressing their discontent against the National Party Government. The ANC also invites the South Africa Indian Congress (SAIC) and the Franchise Action Council to discuss a joint campaign of civil disobedience and general strikes against the government.
- 18 June, The Suppression of Communism Act No 50 is passed
- 6 July, The Prevention of Illegal Squatting Act, Act No 52 of 1951 is passed.
- 17 July, The Bantu Authorities Act No 68 of 1951 is passed.
- 24 July, Oliver Tambo completes his articles, passes his exams and qualifies as an attorney.
- 28 July - 29 July, The African National Congress (ANC) calls a meeting in Johannesburg in which the South African Indian Congress (SAIC), the African People Organisation (APO) and the Franchise Action Committee executives are invited to chart way forward for the Defiance Campaign. However APO rejects the ANC invitation and never attends the meeting. FRAC is invited as an observer since it was not a national organisation. An ultimatum has to be addressed to the Government to repeal all discriminating Legislation before or on 29 February 1952, and if this does not take place a mass contravention of such legislation will be launched in all sections of the country
- 29 July, The Joint Planning Council consist of (Walter Sisulu, Dr Y Dadoo, J.B. Marks and Y Cachalia) is formed.
- 8 November, The Join Planning Council completes its work and makes its report available to the executive committees of the African National Congress (ANC) and the South African Indian Congress (SAIC).
- 23 November, M.B.Yengwa and other members of the ANC Youth League in Natal nominate Albert Luthuli for the President of the African National Congress in Natal and Luthuli is subsequently elected to this position. In his address to the Annual Conference of the ANC in Natal, Luthuli calls for unity among Africans and redefines the challenges that face them in the light of new pieces of apartheid legislation being introduced by the Malan Government
- December, Walter Sisulu, Dr. Y. Dadoo, J.B. Marks and Y.A. Cachalia (all members of the Joint Planning Council) together with R.T. Chari, former secretary of the Indian High Commissioner in the Union, visit Basutoland. They have discussions there with black headmen about the inauguration of the Protectorate by the Union of South Africa.
- December, Nelson Mandela is banned under the Riotous Assemblies Act.
- 15 December - 17 December, The African National Congress (ANC) adopts the report of the Joint Planning Council at its Bloemfontein conference.
- The Appellate Division of the Supreme Court set aside the Separate Representation Voters Bill after an appeal by some Coloureds voters on the grounds that the entrench clause in South Africa requires two-third majority of both house of parliament in a joint sitting
- The Coloured People's Organisation (later the Coloured People's Congress) is formed under James La Guma and becomes the successor to the African People's Organisation (APO).
Walter Sisulu travels through the country to organise the Defiance Campaign and addresses numerous meetings. Among others, Sisulu visits Bloemfontein, Kimberley, Cape Town and Port Elizabeth.
- Father Trevor Huddleston writes to Christian Action asking financial support in defending and assisting the families of the volunteers in the Defiance Campaign.
Walter Sisulu, Duma Nokwe and others leave South Africa without passports to visit various counties.
The Abolition of Passes and Co-ordination of Documents Act of No 67 of 1952 includes Black women.
- Florence Matomela, one of the first women volunteers during the Defiance Campaign is arrested and spends six weeks in prison.
Fatima Meer is banned under the Suppression of Communism Act.
Lillian Ngoyi participates in a protest march against the banning of the Secretary-General of the Garment Workers` Union (GWU), E.S. ("Solly") Sachs.
- 21 January, A letter co-signed by Dr J.S. Moroka and Walter Sisulu is sent to the Prime Minister, Dr D.F. Malan
- 25 January - 27 January, At its 20th annual conference in Johannesburg, the South African Indian Congress (SAIC) accepts the report of the Joint Planning Committee. Dr S.M. Molema, African National Congress, National-Treasurey delivers keynote Address.
- 29 January, The Prime Minister responds to the letter of the African National Congress (ANC) through his private secretary, Mr A. Camp. In the letter, he lambastes the ANC for writing to him directly instead of going through the Minister of Native Affairs
- 11 February, The African National Congress (ANC) reacts with arrogance to the Letter from the Prime Minister, Dr D.F. Malan, and tells the Prime Minister that the Department of Native Affairs is not the only channel of communication they can use to communicate with him.
- 16 March, The Franchise Action Council calls a special conference in Cape Town to discuss what role of protest Coloured people would play on 6 April 1952 during the tercentenary celebrations of Jan van Riebeeck's arrival at the Cape.
- 23 March, Cyprian Solomon, paramount chief of the Zulus, warns 20,000 of his people not to participate in the Defiance Campaign and said that he would himself place their grievances before the proper authorities later.
- 6 April, During the tercentenary celebrations of Jan van Riebeeck's arrival at the Cape, 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: People Protest Day."
- 6 April, Walter Sisulu is one of the speakers at a meeting which is described as a "People's Protest Day Rally" and outlines the "Plan of Action". The following people also officiate as speakers: Dr. Y.M. Dadoo, D. Ilsome, James Phillips, Moses Kotane and D. Bopape.
- 21 April, Walter Sisulu, Dr. Y.M. Dadoo, A.M. Dadoo and Y.A. Cachalia are detained at Idutywa in the Transkei, because they entered the area without the necessary permission.
- 25 May, Minister of Justice C.R. Swart terminates Sam Kahn and Fred Carneson's membership of Parliament and the Provincial Council respectively for being Communists.
- 31 May, The African National Congress (ANC) executive meets in Port Elizabeth and announces that the Defiance Campaign would begin on 26 June
- 1 June, The African National Congress (ANC) and the South African Indian Congress (SAIC) National Executive Committees holds a meeting in Port Elizabeth to discuss the details of the Defiance Campaign.
- 9 June, Walter Sisulu speaks at a united meeting of the African National Congress and South African Indian Congress in Johannesburg.
- 22 June, Volunteers make a pledge to participate in the Defiance Campaign.
- 26 June, The African National Congress (ANC) officially launches the Defiance Campaign with the support from South African Indian Congress (SAIC) and the Franchise Action Council, later be called the Coloured People's Association. The campaign begins in Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth. Over 8,000 people from all racial groups court imprisonment by contravening selected discriminatory laws and regulations.
- 27 June, The Native Laws Amendment Act of 1952 is passed.
- 11 July, The Natives (abolition of Passes and Co-ordination of Documents) Act, Act No 67 of 1952 is passed.
- 30 July, N. Mandela is served with a warrant for his arrest on a charge of violating the Suppression of Communism Act
- August, The Mandela & Tambo Law firm is established in Chancellor House, opposite the Magistrate Courts in downtown in Johannesburg.
- August, The South African Security Police conducts an unprecedented raid on the offices and homes of the liberation movements and their leaders.
- 12 August, Twenty non-White leaders are arrested and charged under the Suppression of Communism Act. The accused includes Dr. J. S. Moroka, President of the African National Congress (ANC), Walter Sisulu Secretary-General of the (ANC), Dr. Y. M. Dadoo, President of South African Indian Congress (SAIC), and Nelson Mandela, President of ANC Youth League.
- 30 August, Chief Albert Luthuli issues a statement on the launching of the Defiance Campaign in Natal.
- 12 September, A delegation of 13 Asian and Arab States requests the General Assembly of the United Nations to consider the question of race conflict in South Africa resulting from the apartheid policies of the Government of the Union of South Africa.
- 18 September, The Minister of Justice C.R. Swart announces in parliament that there are thirty-three trade union officials and eighty-nine other people served with notices in terms of the Suppression of Communism Act.
- 22 September, Thousands of supporters of 20 liberation movement leaders, who are on trial facing charges under the Suppression of Communism Act, demonstrate at the Johannesburg Magistrate's Court during the preliminary trial
- October, The Annual Assembly of the Baptist Union of South African, appeals to the Government to meet with the liberation movements leaders to discuss constructive measures for the future and make specific recommendation in regard to housing, education, labour exchanges and the wastage of man-power.
- 10 October - 12 October, Nelson Mandela is elected the president of the Transvaal African National Congress at its conference to replace the banned J.B Marks
- 18 October, The riots break out at the New Brighton (Port Elizabeth) train station when a railway constable try to arrest two Blacks suspected of stealing a tin of paint.
- 20 October, The African National Congress local leaders in New Brighton, Port Elizabeth issue a statement on violence occurred on 18 October
- 27 October, The press reports a statement by Dr J.L.Z Njongwe, the ANC President in Western Cape, that " If you hear one day that Ciskei has also gone into action, you will know that the victory will be achieved within five weeks".
- 3 November, The residents of Denver Native Hostel in Denver, who had resolved not to pay an increase in rental from eleven shillings to one pound per month, rush at a tenant who tendered the rental, shouting that he should be 'hit' and 'killed'.
- 7 November, The government banned 52 Black leaders from attending meetings for six months in Eastern Cape.
- 8 November, Police fires on demonstrators in Kimberley. Fourteen are killed and 39 wounded.
- 10 November, A one-day general strike is held in Port Elizabeth to protest police attacks in Kimberley and East London, which results in 22 dead and 108 injured. The strike also protests against the City Council's imposition of a curfew and month-long ban on public meetings. In Johannesburg, African National Congress (ANC) leaders called on all Africans to keep calm.
- 12 November, Chief A.J Luthuli is dismissed as traditional chief by the government after he refuses to resign as African National Congress (ANC) leader in Natal. In his response Luthuli issues a statement entitled 'The Road to Freedom is via the Cross'
- 2 December, The trial of twenty national leaders comes to an end when they are convicted of "statutory communism" and sentenced to nine months imprisonment with hard labour. However, the sentences are suspended for two years.
- 2 December, Walter Sisulu is sentenced to 9 months imprisonment, conditionally suspended for three years.
- 5 December, The United Nations General Assembly sets up a Commission on the Racial Situation in South Africa
- 8 December, A mixed group consisting of three white men, four white women, thirteen Indian men, six Indian women, ten African men and two African women enter Germiston location in the Witwatersrand area without permits.
- 8 December, Patrick Duncan and other Whites illegally enter African locations in support of the Defiance Campaign
- 17 December, 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.
- 18 December - 20 December, At the annual African National Congress (ANC) conference, Chief Albert Luthuli is elected to replace Dr J.S. Moroka as General-President of the ANC.
- The Government announces the Native Labour (Settlement of Disputes) Act in an attempt to control the trade unions.
The first three tribal authorities are established in the Transvaal.
Nelson Mandela drafts the M-Plan, to organise Black people on a street/block basis.
- The South African Coloured People's Organisation is formed.
Former Communist Party of South Africa (CPSA) members regroup and reconstitute the party under a new name South African Communist Party (SACP) at an underground conference.
- 7 January, Joseph (Joe) Matthews writes a letter to his father Pro Z. K Matthews who was visiting professor at Union Theological Seminary in New York informing him about secret meeting between African National Congress (ANC) and South African Indian Congress (SAIC) leadership.
- 4 March, The Public Safety Act of 1953 is passed.
- The Criminal Law Amendment Act No 8 of 1953 is passed.
- April, The Bantu Education Act is passed
- 24 April, Chief Albert Luthuli calls off the Defiance Campaign after the introduction of the Criminal Amendment Law Act and the Public Safety Act.
- 16 May, The African Ministers Federation calls for the observance of an African National Day of Prayer on Sunday 31st May 1953 to give support for the Defiance Campaign.
- June, Nelson Mandela writes an article entitled 'Searching on the Liberal Party'. The article is published in a new monthly periodical, Liberation, which was edited by Michael Harmel.
- Nelson Mandela presides over a meeting in the Odin Cinema in Sophiatown alongside the Indian leader Yusuf Cachalia. Cachalia is later arrested on the platform by the police.
- 26 June, The first anniversary of the launch of the Defiance Campaign is observed as a day of commemoration and rededication
- 15 July, Walter Sisulu and Duma Nokwe, a former teacher and member of the African National Congress (ANC), go overseas under false names and without passports.
- 21 July, Walter Sisulu and Duma Nokwe arrive in London, England. From there they go to Bucharest, Romania, where they attend the communist "World Festival of Youth and Students for Peace and Friendship". After this, Sisulu and Nokwe embark on an extensive tour through the countries behind the iron curtain as guests of the Communists. Sisulu and Nokwe travel through Czechoslovakia, Poland, Russia and Communist China.
- August, The FRAC calls a People's Convention in Cape Town
- 15 August, The President of the Cape African National Congress (ANC), Prof Z.K Matthews proposes the hold of the Congress of the People in his presidential address to the annual provincial conference of the organisation in Cradock
- September, The Coloured People's Organisation, later the Coloured People's Congress, under the presidency of James la Guma, is formed in Cape Town as successor to the African People's Organisation (APO).
- 12 September, The South African Coloured People's Organisation (SACPO) is founded in Cape Town by Liberals and trade unionists including, Edgar Deane, Dr Richard van der Roos, S. Rahim, Regional September and John Gomas
- October, O.Tambo addresses a meeting of White Congress supporters convened by the African National Congress (ANC), which went on to establish the Congress of Democrats (CoD)
- 9 October, The Reservation of Separate Amenities Act, Act No 49 of 1953 is passed.
- December, After an absence of five months, Walter Sisulu and Duma Nokwe return to the Union of South Africa.
The African National Congress (ANC) paid up membership is reported to be 28,900
- 13 December, Nelson Mandela speaks for an hour and a half at a big meeting in Soweto. His speech is recorded inaccurately by a policeman, Detective-Sergeant Helberg, and later used as evidence of treason against him.
- 18 December - 20 December, The Annual Conference of African National Congress (ANC) adopts a proposal to call a Congress of the People of South Africa.
- 30 December, The General Assembly of the United Nations rejects a South African draft resolution to decide, having regard to Article 2, paragraph 7 of the United Nations Charter that it had no competence to adopt the draft resolution recommended by the Ad Hoc Political Committee. The vote is 42 to 8, with 10 abstentions.Those voting in favour of the South African motion are Australia, Belgium, Colombia, France, Greece, Luxembourg, Union of South Africa and United Kingdom. Those abstaining were: Argentina, Canada, Dominican Republic, Netherlands, New Zealand, Panama, Peru, Turkey, USA and Venezuela.Resolution 721 (VIII) was adopted by 38 votes to 15, with 7 abstentions
- The South African Coloured People Organisation (SACPO) organises bus boycott in Cape Town to protest against the introduction of segregation on buses.
- Fietas, Johannesburg: H.F. Verwoed states in his speech in the Senate that the human reality needs to be racially defined and racially organised under the 'supremacy of the white race.'
The formation of the Federation of South African women (FEDSAW) takes place, bringing together women from the African National Congress (ANC), the South African Indian Congress (SAIC), the Trade unions and self-help groups.
- Florence Matomela becomes the Cape Provincial Organiser of the ANC Women's League.
Dorothy Nyembe becomes Chairperson of the Two-Stick branch Committee in Cato Manor
Potlako Leballo becomes Chairman of the Orlando East African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL).
- Phylis Naidoo joins the Natal Indian Congress (NIC) and raises funds for detainees arrested for Treason.
Sarah Carneson is banned and can no longer hold office in any union.
Josie Palmer becomes President of the Transvaal branch of FEDSAW
- The African National Congress (ANC) National Executive Committee (NEC) instructs its women and youth sections to work with other organisations to oppose the Bantu Education Act.
The National Action Council issues a regular newsletter, titled Speaking Together.
A number of regional and local conferences are held to collect demands to be included in the Freedom Charter
- Black teachers and students protest against Bantu Education. The African Education Movement is formed to give alternative education to Blacks. For a few years, cultural clubs operate as informal schools, but by 1960 they close down.
Oliver Tambo is banned and forbidden to address or attend gatherings. However his banning order does not require him to resign from the African National Congress (ANC).
- 6 February, Walter Sisulu addresses an African National Congress (ANC) meeting in Durban and gives a comprehensive account of his travels through Eastern Europe, Russia and the People's Republic of China.
- 9 February, Walter Sisulu acts as a speaker at a meeting of the "South African Society for Peace and Friendship with the Soviet Union", which is held in the Ambagsaal, Johannesburg. Sisulu talks of the way in which Communism has been implemented in Russia and China.
- 14 February, Walter Sisulu acts as a speaker at an African National Congress (ANC) meeting, which is held in the Western Black Township of Johannesburg and again relates his visit to Eastern Europe, Russia and China
- March, The Torch Printing and Publishing company (Pty) Ltd is charged with promoting hostility between Blacks and Whites.
The Joint Planning Committee, later renamed National Action Council is established to organise the holding of the proposed Congress of the People.
- 11 March, Walter Sisulu addresses an African National Congress (ANC) meeting in Port Elizabeth. Sisulu relates in detail his trip to Europe and of everything he saw and experienced there.
- 19 March, Walter Sisulu leaves by aeroplane to Durban, to discuss with the African National Congress (ANC) leaders in Natal.
- 21 March, In the meeting held in Stanger, 40 delegates from opposition organisations squeeze into school desks to hear the proposal and respond on the Congress of the People. The meeting is illegal, since Chief Albert Lutuli is banned from gatherings.
- The African Nation Congress (ANC) conference sets up a sub committee to draw up plans according to which National Action Council for the Congress of the People consisting of eight members from each sponsoring organisations is established.
- 28 March, Walter Sisulu acts as speaker during a meeting of the African National Congress (ANC) at Veeplaats. At the meeting Sisulu speaks of the successes of the strikes and the co-operation of the Black community in this connection.
- 1 April, Walter Sisulu addresses a meeting of the African National Congress (ANC) in Cradock.
- 11 April, Walter Sisulu acts as speaker at a meeting of the African National Congress (ANC) in Sophiatown, Johannesburg. Sisulu urges Blacks not to allow themselves to be removed from the Western areas.
- May, The South African Coloured People's Organisation (SACPO) claims to have over 4,500 members.
- P.K. Leballo is expelled from the African National Congress (ANC) and suspended as Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Orlando branch of the ANC Youth League.
- The NEC's of the African National Congress (ANC), South African Indian Congress (SAIC), the South African Congress of Democrats (SACOD), and the South African Coloured People Organisation (SACPO), approves a plan campaign known as the "RESIST APARTHEID CAMPAIGN".
- 1 May, Walter Sisulu speaks at an African National Congress (ANC) meeting in the Alexandra Township area, Johannesburg. On the same day, Sisulu addresses a meeting under cover of the Transvaal Council of Non-European Trade Unions (CNETU) in the Ambagsaal, Johannesburg.
- 9 May, Walter Sisulu makes the following statement at an African National Congress (ANC) meeting in Newclare, Johannesburg: "We are educated people, the Nationalist and United Party Leaders can come and take lessons from us", as well as, "the white people's time has expired. The Africans are now going to rule. We are not going to Meadowlands".
- June, The African National Congress (ANC) holds a Resist Apartheid conference in Johannesburg, which declares its solidarity with the people of the Western Areas against their removal.
- 20 June, Walter Sisulu attends the annual conference of the African National Congress (ANC) branch of the Cape Province at Uitenhage.
- 26 June - 27 June, Walter Sisulu speaks at a meeting of the African National Congress (ANC) in the Communal Hall in the Western black township area of Johannesburg. Among others, Sisulu says the following: "We need 5 000 volunteers but we must get them before the removal of the 'black spots' begins, they must then be ready".
- 11 July, Walter Sisulu attends a massive meeting of the African National Congress (ANC) in Sophiatown, Johannesburg.
- 23 July
- Walter Sisulu is served with two notifications, in terms of Section 5 of the Suppression of Communism Act (Act 44 of 1950). Sisulu is thereby commanded to resign as member, official or office-bearer from certain organisations and not to take part again in the activities thereof, and is also prohibited from attending any gathering at any place within the Union of South Africa or the area of South West Africa, for a period of two years
- 24 July, Walter Sisulu is taken into custody in the Botshabelo location, Bloemfontein, and charged under the Suppression of Communism Act.
- 26 July, Walter Sisulu appears before the Magistrate Court of Bloemfontein and is released on £50 bail. The case would serve before the Supreme Court in Bloemfontein during August 1955.
- 1 August, The Natives Resettlement Act, Act No 19 of 1954 is passed The Act gives powers to the Government to remove Africans from any area within and next to the magisterial district of Johannesburg. In essence, this Act wants to effect the removal of Africans from Sophiatown to Soweto, southwest of Johannesburg.
- 14 August, Walter Sisulu attends a secret African National Congress (ANC) meeting in Durban. This meeting is held during a conference of the “Congress of the People“ which took place over the weekend of 13 -16 August 1954
- 20 August, Walter Sisulu sends a statement to the different branches of the African National Congress (ANC) in which he vehemently attacks the present Government over the restrictions that have been placed upon him and others. Sisulu also requests that all the left-wing organisations intensify their propaganda.
- 24 August, The Evaton People’s Transport Council (EPTC) is elected at a public meeting.
- September, Walter Sisulu approaches a number of prominent organisations in the USA for funds for the “Campaign Plan“ as a representative of the National Action Council of the Congress of the People.
- October, The right wing trade unions, walks out of the SATLC conference held in Durban to form the Trade Union Council of South Africa (TUCSA).
The Government bans, under the Suppression of Communism Act, the weekly periodical Advance, one of the few sources of information about non-White political movements.
- November, The Orlando Africanist, a newly formed group in Orlando periodically distributes a mimeographed newssheet called The Africanist, which became the mouthpiece of orthodox-nationalist criticism against the African National Congress (ANC) policy of multiracialism.
- December, The African National Congress (ANC) annual conference, held in Durban, approves the activities of the National Action Council. It is decided that the Congress of the People had to be a unique mass meeting of delegates representing all the inhabitants, urban and rural, Black and White.
- December, The African National Congress (ANC) conference resolves to reject the Bantu Education Act and call on African parents to withdraw their children from primary schools indefinitely as from 1 April 1955.
- 2 December, The New Prime Minister, J.G. Strijdom, forms his new Government.
- 5 December, Pietermaritzburg holds its regional conference of the Congress of the People. The conference is attended by 197 delegates.
- Pietermaritzburg regional conference of the Congress of the People is opened by Robert Resha, the African National Congress (ANC) National Executive member.
- 11 December, Walter Sisulu, together with a number of members from the Transvaal Indian Congress (TIC) and African National Congress (ANC), meet in the offices of the ANC in Johannesburg in order to give certain instructions to delegates to the ANC conference, which will be held at Pinetown, near Durban.
- 1955 - 1963
- South African Congress of Trade Union (SACTU) headquarters in Johannesburg opens communication lines with other international trade union federations such as the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) and the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU). These links are extended to other countries in Africa, North America, Europe, Latin America, Asia, Australia and New Zealand
- The South African Government announces that women must carry passes.
Annie Silinga is deported under police escort to Transkei. She later returns illegally to live with her family in Langa.
- The Black Labour (Settlement of Disputes) Amendment Act No 59 of 1955 is passed.
The Black Sash is formed by six women in Cape Town.
- The Tomlinson Commission report calls for a massive job creation programme in the reserves.
- February, Dr M.M Motala is re-elected Chairman of the Natal Indian Congress (NIC), with S.B Mungal and A S Chetty as joint-secretaries.
- 8 February, The African National Congress (ANC) working Committee, in a statement signed by Oliver Tambo says, “the people fight against the removal will be non-violent”.
- 9 February, About 60 000 people are forcibly removed from Johannesburg’s Western Areas, such as Sophiatown, under the provisions of the Group Areas Act. Sophiatown is consequently renamed Triumph.
- 5 March, The inaugural conference of the South African Congress of Trade Unions (SACTU) is held in Johannesburg.
- April, The Sub-Committees of the National Action Council starts to sort out demands to be included in Freedom Charter into categories.
- 1 April, The Government assumes control of Bantu schools and the African National Congress (ANC) subsequently launches a massive boycott of Bantu Education and schools by both teachers and pupils, together with an attempt to organise an alternative system of education.
- 18 April, The African National Congress (ANC) and South African Indian Congress (SAIC) send Moses Kotane and I.M Cachalia to the Bandung Conference held in Indonesia as observers. The Conference is attended by 29 newly independent African and Asian countries.
- 22 April, Walter Sisulu holds an interview with prominent members of the African National Congress (ANC) over the boycotting of schools.
- May, The African Education Movement is established by representatives from the churches, African National Congress and South African Congress of Democrats (CoD) in an attempt to improve the standard of alternative education to Bandu Education.
- 25 June - 26 June, Approximately 8000 delegates representing the African National Congress (ANC), the Congress of Democrats, the South African Indian Congress (SAIC), the Coloured People’s Congress, and the multiracial South African Congress of Trade Unions (SACTU) meet in Kliptown near Soweto in a Congress of the People.
- 26 June, The South African Congress of Trade Unions (SACTU) becomes an active member of the Congress Alliance and is represented on the Alliance’s National Co-ordinating Committee.
Freedom Charter is adopted at the Congress of the People in Kliptown. Albert Luthuli, Dr Yusuf Dadoo and Father Trevor Huddleston are each awarded the Isithwalandwe, the nation’s highest honour.
- 30 June, The New Age characterises the Congress of the People sas the spectacular and moving demonstration this country has never seen.
- 1 July, The Criminal Procedure Act No 56 of 1955 is passed.
- August, An article by Walter Sisulu appears in the pamphlet of Workers Unity under the heading “The Allegiance of the Trade Union and Liberatory movements in Africa“. In the article he describes the oppression of the masses (non-Whites) under imperialism.
- 28 August, At a meeting held at the Bharat Hall, Durban, the Working Committee of the Natal Indian Congress (NIC) approves the formation of the National Joint Consultative Committee to popularise the Freedom Charter.
- September, The houses of all prominent protest leaders are searched for incriminating evidence.
- 18 September, Members of the African National Congress (ANC), the South African Congress of Trade Unions (SACTU) and the South African Communist Party (SACP) meet in the Trades Hall, Commissioner street, Johannesburg, to discuss the Freedom Charter and the way forward.
- 27 October, 2000 Women of all races, co-ordinated by the Federation of South African Women (FEDSAW), stages a march in Pretoria to deliver their demands (including their concern about a lack of social services, housing, schools and the threat of the extension of passes to women) to the Prime Minister, J.G. Strijdom.
- 17 December - 18 December, Lillian Ngoyi becomes the first women to be elected to the African National Congress’s National Executive Committee.
- During the African National Congress (ANC) annual national conference held in Bloemfontein, the Africanists launch a determined attack on all sections of Freedom Charter which accepted multiracialism.
- 1956 - 1961
- South African Congress of Trade Union (SACTU) affiliation on the Witwatersrand remains stagnant at 15 000 members.
- 1956 - 1963
- The banned Assistant General Secretary, Phyllis Altman, discharges the networking responsibilities for South African Congress of Trade Union (SACTU).
- South African Congress of Trade Union (SACTU) resolves at its first Annual Conference that: “The organisation of the mass of the workers of the higher wages, better conditions of life and labour, is inextricably bound up with determined struggle for political rights and liberation from all oppressive practices and laws. Mere struggle for economic rights without participation in the general struggle for political emancipation would condemn the trade union movement to uselessness and to a betrayal of the interests of the workers”.
- African women are issued with reference books amid a storm of protest.
- Fietas, Johannesburg: Faried Adams, a resident of Fietas and a member of the Transvaal Indian Congress Youth Organisation (TICYO) is the no. 1 accused in the Treason Trial. The area south of 22nd Street in Pageview is declared a ‘White’ area, with effect from a year after the proclamation.
- The Natives (Prohibition Of Interdicts) Act, Act No 64 of 1956 is passed.
- About six new trade unions are set up in Port Elizabeth in the sweet, milling, stevedoring, biscuit, cement and leather industries.
- Widespread protests against the carrying of passes begin, resulting in the burning of passbooks and stones being thrown at the officials who deliver the books. Many women are arrested and violence was particularly bad in the Hurutshe reserve in the Western Transvaal.
Frances Baard becomes a member of the executive committee of the South African Congress of Trade Unions (SACTU).
- Hilda Bernstein founds the South African Peace Council, and becomes its national secretary.
- 2 March, South Africa Act Amendment Act No 9 is passed.
- 16 March, Riotous Assemblies Act No 17 of 1956 is passed.
- 31 March - 1 April, The Freedom Charter is finally adopted by the African National Congress (ANC), special conference despite the disruptions and scuffle between African National Congress (ANC) loyalists and Africanists.
- 7 May, The Industrial Conciliation Amendment Act of 1956 is passed.
- 18 May, The Separate Representation of Voters Act of 1956 is passed.
- 1 June, The Native Administration Amendment Act No 42 of 1956 is passed This Act empowers government to slap Africans with banishment order and exile them to remote rural areas far from their homes.
- 9 August, South African women march to the Union Buildings in Pretoria to protest against the pass law, under the banner of the Federation of South African Women (FEDSAW).
- Lillian Ngoyi President of (FEDSAW) leads the women’s national anti-pass march to the Union Building in Pretoria.
Dorothy Nyembe leads the Natal contingent of women in a march to the Union Buildings in Pretoria.
- 4 October - 6 October, The African People of the Union of South Africa at the invitation of Interdenominational African Ministers Federation attends conference held in Bloemfontein to consider the Tomilson report.
- December, Mrs Annie Silinga is arrested for treason and taken to Johannesburg. She is the only African woman from the Western Cape among the accused.
- 5 December, 156 leaders of the Congress Movement are arrested nationwide throughout on a charge of High Treason. After a trial lasting over 4 years, they are found not guilty and discharged in March 1961 when the trial end.
- 1957 - 1960
- The South African Congress of Trade Union (SACTU) organises major workers’ strikes and actions around the country. These includes the food and canning workers strikes at Langeberg Koöperasie Beperk (LKB), Beacon Sweets, King Edward V TB hospital, King Edward VIII and McCord hospitals, the Potato Boycott, United Tobacco, Bakers Biscuits, Hammarsdale and Charlestown Clothing Manufacturers, Veka Clothing Manufacturers and Match workers.
- The Immorality Amendment Act, Act No 23 of 1957, is passed This Act is one of the most controversial pieces of legislation. It prohibits adultery, attempted adultery or related immoral acts such as sexual intercourse between White and Black people.
- The Transkeian Territorial Authority replaces the Bunga and takes on limited government responsibilities.
- 7 January, An African bus boycott lasting ten weeks is initiated in Johannesburg and Pretoria.
- 25 January, During the Treason Trial, six police witnesses gives evidence dealing with documents seized from the offices of the New Age, (Durban), the Natal Indian Congress (NIC) and from accused No. 1, Farid Adam.
- 28 January, Twelve police witnesses gives evidence dealing with the documents seized from ten accused, including Farid Adam and Mohammed Asmal during the Treason Trial.
- 29 January, Sixteen policemen testify during the Treason Trial on documents seized from ten different accused, including Paul Joseph and A.M Kathrada and other banned members of the Transvaal Indian Congress and the Transvaal Indian Youth Congress. Exhibit No. AMK 75 is a letter from A.M Kathrada declining invitation to attend a cocktail party at the Soviet Consulate because of his banning order.
- 30 January, Fourteen policemen give evidence dealing with documents seized from nine of the accused during the Treason Trial. For the first time, a Black witness, Detective Sergeant Tabete, gives evidence.
- 2 February, Alex Hepple, leader of the Labour Party, introduces a union in the House of Assembly calling for the convention of all sections of the community to consider the establishment and maintenance of a democratic society.
- 10 February, The South African Congress of Trade Unions (SACTU) convenes a Workers’ Conference. The conference calls for A-Pound-a-Day national minimum wage campaign to be held.
- April, The South African Coloured People’s Organisation rejects the Separate Representation of Voters Act at its first national conference and demand full franchise rights for all and propose to boycott elections to be held for the White parliamentary representatives for the Coloureds.
- July, The Asinamali Rally held in Johannesburg draws 500 workers from Klerksdorp, Pretoria, Johannesburg and the East and West Rand.
- December, The South African Coloured People’s Organisation (SACPO), after encouraged by the African National Congress (ANC), reverses its earlier decision to boycott elections at its national congress.
- 17 December, After almost a year of preliminary hearings, the Government drops charges against sixty-one of the accused in the Treason Trail, including Chief Albert Lutuli and Oliver Tambo. The Trial is postponed to the following year.
- Women in Zeerust destroy their passes, and this is followed by massive unrest.
- The Congress Alliance organises a general stoppage of work by Blacks to coincide with the general election for parliament for which only Whites could vote.
- Amato Textile Mills strike erupts.
- 13 January, The Treason Trial resumes.
- 1 February, All African men are required to possess reference books.
- 17 March, The African National Congress (ANC) is banned in several rural districts.
- 3 April, The Coloured people elect four whites to the House of Assembly in the first communal election since their removal from the common voters roll in 1956.
- 12 April, The Coloured people elect four whites to the House of Assembly in the first communal election since their removal from the common voters roll in 1956.
- 16 April, The Whites go to the polls in the second general election since 1948.
- May, The Sekhukhuneland revolt against “Bantu” authorities takes place. Similar battles are fought in Tembuland, Pondoland and Zululand.
- 24 August, The Prime Minister J. Strijdom dies.
- 3 September, Dr H.F. Verwoerd assumes office as Prime Minister and leader of the National Party.
- October, The first issue of the African Communist, a journal of the South African Communist Party (SACP), is published.
- 4 October, Walter Sisulu attends an African National Congress (ANC) meeting in the Congress Offices in Johannesburg.
- 21 October - 28 October, Demonstrators in Johannesburg protest the issuance of reference books to African women.
- 2 November, The Africanist faction tries to take charge of African National Congress (ANC) Transvaal Provincial Conference by packing it with people who are not accredited delegates. They submits a letter of disassociation from the ANC.
- 13 December - 14 December, The first African National Congress (ANC), annual conference after the Africanists breakaway in Durban emphasises unity in the movement.
- 13, 500 Natal workers join South African Congress of Trade Union (SACTU) in a spirit of popular militancy in the wake of the Cato Manor riots.
- The more liberal members of the United Party (UP) break away to form the Progressive Federal Party (PFP).
- The Union Council for Coloured Affairs established with 12 elected and 15 appointed members.
The African National Congress (ANC), National Executive sends a memorandum to the United Nations to back up the call for international sanctions against South Africa’s apartheid regime.
- Sonia Bunting is banned from attending meetings and ordered to resign from 26 organizations.
Dorothy Nyembe is elected President of the African National Congress Women’s League in Natal and participates in the call for potato boycotts.
Thayanayagie Pillay sets up a breakfast and lunch service for Treason Trialists in Pretoria.
- March, The Africanists break away from the African National Congress (ANC) to form Pan Africanist Congress of Azania (PAC).
- 4 April - 6 April, Pan Africanist Congress of Azania (PAC) is founded in Orlando, Soweto under the leadership of Robert Sobukwe. He gives opening address.
Eliot Nzimeni Mfaxa is elected Pan Africanist Congress of Azania first national organiser
- 4 April - 6 April, Potlako Leballo and A.B Ngcobo are elected first Secretary-General and National – Treasure of the Pan Africanist Congress respectively.
- 11 April, Walter Sisulu attends a meeting of the National Consultative Committee in the Congress offices in Johannesburg. The boycott of certain goods and activities on 26 June 1959 inter alia, was discussed.
- 23 May, Walter Sisulu attends a secret meeting of the ANC Youth League in Johannesburg.
- 30 May, The African National Congress (ANC) calls for a boycott of potatoes as a protest against the bestial treatment of farm labourers.
- 31 May, The African National Congress (ANC) organise the Potato Boycott directed against the savage exploitation of African farm labour in Bethal.
- June, Chief A.J Luthuli is confined to his home district in Natal for five years.
- 16 June - 19 June, Rioting and destruction of Government property takes place in Cato Manor and Durban.
- 19 June, The Promotion of Bantu Self-Government Act of 1959 is passed.
- The Extension of University Education Act of 1959 is passed. The Act sets up separate ’tribal colleges’ for black university students. Blacks could no longer freely attend white universities. Again, there are strong protests.
- 26 June, African National Congress (ANC) initiates a boycott of twenty-four brands of goods.
- July, Robert Sobukwe, President of the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania (PAC), announces that the PAC will launch a campaign against the pass laws in August, and the aim will be to free South Africa by 1963.
- Joe Matthews issues an article in The Liberation titled “Africanism under the Microscope”.
- August, The Pan Africanist Congress of Azania claims a membership of 25 000 members belonging to 101 branches.
- 1 August, Walter Sisulu attends a secret united meeting of the Federation of South African Women (FEDSAW) and the ANC Women’s League in Johannesburg. Ahmed Kathrada and Ruth First also attend.
- 2 August, Robert Sobukwe delivers State of the National Address on National Heroes Day.
- October, The South African Communist Party (SACP) produces its first issue of the African Communist, which becomes an important theoretical journal in the liberation movement.
- December, The Pan Africanist Congress of Azania (PAC) membership stands at around 30 000 - less than halfway to the target of 100 000 set when it was formed.
- 5 December, Walter Sisulu, John Mavuso, Moses Kotane, Marks Ramitloa and Betty du Toit attend a Christmas party in aid of the Treason Trial accused, in Johannesburg.
- 8 December, The All African People’s Conference is held in Accra.
- 10 December, Human Rights Day is observed by the Congress Alliance throughout South Africa.
- 16 December, The last National Conference of the African National Congress (ANC) before its banning is held.
- 19 December - 20 December, The Pan Africanist Congress of Azania (PAC), NEC submits its report at the party annual conference. The conference orders the president Robert Sobukwe to call upon African nation to take Decisive Positive Action against pass laws.