The Riotous Assemblies Act Commences

Friday, 16 March 1956

The Riotous Assemblies Act no 17 of 1956, prohibiting any outside gathering that the minister of justice saw as a threat to public peace, commenced. It included banishment as a form of punishment. It allowed the government to ban any newspaper or any other "documentary information" that would cause hostility between Black and White people, but also punished actions that could bring the two racial groups together. It was a clear case of suppressing freedom of speech and assembly, as both of these rights would disrupt the repressive system being enforced by the government.

It was repealed in part by Internal Security Act No 74 of 1982

Click here for more on South African Apartheid legislation.

• The New Age,"16 March, 1956",From: The New Age,[Online],Available at:,[Accessed on: 05 March 2014]
•,"Riotous Assemblies Act, 1956",From:,[Online],Available at:,[Accessed on: 05 March 2014]

Last updated : 13-Mar-2015

This article was produced for South African History Online on 16-Mar-2011