UDF men takes refuge in the US consulate


UDF Flag

Tuesday, 13 September 1988

Murphy Morobe (Publicity Secretary), Valli Moosa (General Secretary), and Vusi Khanyile (National Education Crisis Committee) all of them senior members of the United Democratic Front (UDF) took refuge in the United States consul general's office after escaping from detention in Johannesburg Prison. While in detention, the three met with other detainees to discuss their next move. Because of their senior position within the UDF it was agreed that they should break from detention. The three demanded that the government lift the State of Emergency, which had been in force since 1986, the release of all detained people, and to be allowed to leave the consulate without threat or possible re-detention.

The three decided to take this action to highlight the plight of South Africans under detention and the effects of the State of emergency on ordinary South Africans. Their decision to take refuge in the United States consulate came at a time when the United State Senate was considering new sanctions against the South African government. As a result, the South African government was put under pressure to respond to the demands of the UDF men in order to avoid further sanctions from the USA and to give the impression that it is willing to negotiate with the African National Congress (ANC) and other liberation movements only if they renounce violence. The South African government was put under more pressure to seriously consider their demands after the United States government announced that it holds the three men in high regard and it has known them for a longer period. The government offered the three free passage out of South Africa and it also accepted that the government did not have sufficient justification to hold the men in detention.

• Gunene, V, et al (1988). " State offer to escaped UDF men: We'll fly you abroad",

Last updated : 12-Sep-2013

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