In pre-colonial times South Africa was occupied by Khoisan people in the west and Bantu speaking people in the east.
1652 Jan van Riebeeck landed at the Cape with 90 soldiers to establish a refreshment station for the Dutch East India Company. Members of the occupation forces were settled as free farmers. They almost exterminated the Khoisan people of the Cape region and developed a slave based agricultural economy.
1779 Bantu speaking people and white intruders met each other. The expansionary efforts of the white settlers resulted in numerous wars against the indigenous people.
1797 British troops occupied the Cape as a reaction to the French occupation of the Dutch colony at the Cape during the Napoleonic War.
1834 Britain prohibited the possession of slaves. In the following decades there was a struggle between the British and the Boers for dominance. The Boers established several Republics.
1867 marked the beginning of modern racial segregation (later developed as apartheid). After the discovery of diamonds and gold ever more cheap black labour was required. Only whites were allowed to own diamond ‘claims.’
1893 Mahatma Ghandi came to South Africa and up to 1914 organised protests by Indians against racial discrimination. His philosophy of non-violence strongly influenced the ANC in later years.
1899-1902 The Second Angl-Boer War for control of the gold and diamond fields. Africans mostly supported the British and hoped to acquire the voting rights that Africans had under the British in the Cape Colony. The Boers were defeated and lost the independence of the Transvaal Republic and the Orange Free State. However a peace treaty was agreed with the British who gave up the principle of equal electoral rights between white and black.
On 31 May 1910 the Union of South Africa was formed by combining the Cape Colony, Natal and the former Boer Republics (Transvaal and Orange Free State).The British colonial power, through its parliament, enacted the Constitution that denied Africans voting rights, except in the Cape Colony where Africans were allowed a limited franchise right. South Africa became an independent member of the Commonwealth
1912 African National Congress was formed.
1913 The Lands Act prohibited Africans from owning land outside the Reserves, eventually 13 per cent of the land. Landless peasants could no longer legally live as sharecroppers on large farms.
1914-1918 During the First World War Black South Africans were auxiliary soldiers on European battlefields.
1921 The Communist Party of South Africa (CPSA) was formed.
1923-1927 First apartheid laws are passed. The separation of residential areas by race was introduced, the right to strike by Africans was limited and sexual relations between White and Black people outside of marriage were forbidden.
1939 On 6 September South Africa declared war on Nazi Germany. The Pro-British party of General Smuts achieved a small majority in the all White parliament over the Afrikaner nationalists who wanted South Africa to remain neutral in the war. Organisations loyal to the Nazis sabotaged the government, assisted German U-boats to land agents on the South West African (Namibian) coast, and fought against South African troops. Many Whites in South Africa were openly sympathetic to the German fascists. The ANC supported the Allied war against Fascism but at the same time wanted full citizenship rights for Black South Africans.
1944 The ANC Youth League founded by Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Oliver Tambo and others including Anton Lembede, A.P. Mda and Robert Sobukwe. The ANC Youth league called for and achieved an activist organization for liberation.The Document African Claims set out the demand for equal rights for all people, the first modern call for universal human rights.
1946/47 Strikes by African mineworkers were crushed.
1948 Afrikaner nationalists won the parliamentary elections. Apartheid became official state doctrine. Many Acts of parliament establishing or strengthening apartheid were passed. Marriage between Whites and all “Non-Whites” was forbidden by law.
1949 Walter Sisulu is elected ANC Secretary General.
1950 At birth South Africans are classified and registered in accordance with “the race of the father.” The Race Classification Board classified people as White, Coloured, Indian (Asian) and Bantu (African) with sub-categories in some instances. Residential areas were created for each race group (Group Areas Act) and people forcibly removed to achieve the separation. Permission was required to enter the residential areas of other race groups – and this applied to Whites too. The Communist Party was declared illegal. The Minister of Justice “banned” people, limiting their personal freedom of expression, movement, association, and employment through prohibition on publication, prohibition of certain occupations and prohibition on entry to factories, mines, and so on, of confinement to specified areas and house arrest, and prohibition on attending gatherings. Between 1950 and 1970 1400 people were banned.
1952 The pass laws of 1923 were repeatedly amended over the next years, to tighten control over all adult male Africans and then adult African women as well by the introduction of the Pass Book (called the Dompas – or “damn pass”). Migration of African workers from the land to the cities was more systematically controlled. Between 1948 and 1974 more than 10 million court cases were brought for contraventions of the pass laws.
1953 So called “Petty Apartheid” ordered racial apartheid in public institutions and places from parks to cinemas and railway stations and all public transport – trains and buses. Whites met with members of the ANC, the SACP and SAIC to form the Congress of Democrats (COD). The ANC wanted to make its policies better known among White South Africans.
1955 ANC, Congress of Democrats, Indian Congress and Coloured Peoples Congress agreed to coordinate their activities in the Congress Alliance led by the ANC. They were later called the Charterists because they all accepted the Freedom Charter as their goal.
25 and 26 June 1955 the Congress of the People convened to adopt the Freedom Charter which outlined the future democratic and free South Africa. It declared: “South Africa belongs to all who live in it.” The ANC wrote the Freedom Charter into its statutes as its policy objective.
December 1955 156 activists, the leaders of practically all the Congress Alliance organizations were arrested on the grounds that the Freedom Charter was allegedly to be a call to violent revolution and thus constituted High Treason.
1957 Denis Goldberg joins the underground Communist party. Prominent members of the Central Committee of the SACP included, Bram Fischer, Brian Bunting, Ivan Schermbrucker, the General Secretary Moses Kotane and Joe Slovo and later Chris Hani, Ronnie Kasrils and Jeremy Cronin.
1958 Hendrik Frensch Verwoerd became Prime Minister. Territorial apartheid was sharpened and the so-called Homelands (Bantustans) were established for the various ethnic groups (Transkei, Ciskei, Bophutatswana, KwaZulu etc.) The “citizens” of these areas automatically lost their South African citizenship.
1960 Chief Albert John Mvumbi Luthuli, President-General of the ANC, is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, the first African to win any Nobel Prize.
21 March 1960 At a peaceful demonstration against the pass laws at Sharpeville 69 people were shot dead and 189 severely wounded when the police opened fire on the demonstrators. In Langa, Cape Town, 3 protesters were shot dead.
30 March 1960 State of Emergency declared. 18000 activists arrested. Denis Goldberg and his mother were detained.
31 May 1961 South Africa had withdrawn from the Commonwealth after the Heads of State of the newly independent countries in Africa, India and Malaysia had issued an ultimatum that either the racial policies of apartheid were abolished or South Africa would be expelled from the Commonwealth. Verwoerd evaded the expulsion by withdrawing. It now declared itself from then on to be the Republic of South Africa. The ANC called for a “Stay-at-home” (strikes by African workers were illegal) in protest against the racism of the new constitution.
16 December 1961 Umkhonto we Sizwe, MK (Spear of the Nation) was formed as the armed wing of the liberation movement.
1962 January Nelson Mandela went underground after the accused were found not guilty in the Treason Trial. He was arrested in August and in November sentenced to five years imprisonment for leaving the country illegally (he had toured Africa and Britain) and for calling a strike (the Stay at Home protest).
June 1962 The state reacted to the sabotage attacks with new laws: The Sabotage Act broadened the powers of the police and permitted the arbitrary arrest of any person.
1963 The 90 Day Detention law came into effect. The police were permitted to hold suspects for 90 days at a time for the purpose of answering questions to the satisfaction of the police. No access was allowed to family, friends, or lawyers, and the courts were denied the right to intervene. Previously, all suspects had to appear in court within 48 hours of being arrested. The detention could be repeated as often as the police wished.
11 July 1963 police raid on the Liliesleaf Farm in Rivonia, Johannesburg. 18 men and some women were arrested. Later, in October 1963 Nelson Mandela and 10 others including Denis Goldberg were charged on two counts under the Sabotage Act, one of contravention of the Suppression of Communism Act and one of furthering the aims of a banned organization (the ANC). The main charge was ‘conspiracy to overthrow the state by force of arms.’
11 August 1963 Arthur Goldreich, Harold Wolpe, Mosie Moolla and Abdulhay “Charlie” Jassat escaped from police cells. Wolpe’s brother-in-law, James Kantor, was later arrested shortly thereafter.
12 June 1964 Judgment delivered in the Rivonia Trial. 8 of the accused, including Denis Goldberg, sentenced to life imprisonment.
1966 Prime Minister Verwoerd stabbed to death in the House of Assembly (Parliament) by a white person. He was declared to be psychologically disturbed and unfit to stand trial. He was sentenced to be imprisoned at the “State President’s pleasure,” meaning he could be held indefinitely as if he were sentenced to life imprisonment. The new President was the former Nazi supporter, B.J. Vorster.
December 1966 The United Nations General Assembly declared Apartheid to be a Crime against Humanity.
1970 The Citizenship Act was passed by Parliament. It removed the citizenship of all Africans and declared them to be citizens of one or the other Homelands. Millions of people were effectively made stateless because no country other than South Africa recognized the Homelands as independent countries.
1973 A strike by workers in Durban. Five trade unions with Black members were established. This marked the beginning of the modern trade union movement in South Africa.
1975 After the revolution against the fascist dictatorship in Portugal (The ‘carnation revolution’) Angola and Mozambique became independent states.
June 16 1976 Student uprising in Soweto. The immediate cause was the introduction of Afrikaans as a language of instruction in schools for African children. In countrywide protests some 600 young people were shot dead and 2000 wounded by the police.
1977 MK sent hundreds of fighters into South Africa. They were to strengthen underground structures and accompany mass action with ‘armed propaganda.’ Steven Bantu Biko died from brain damage caused by mistreatment suffered while being held in detention without trial by the police.
1978 Through an internal Government scandal, the former Defence Minister, Pieter Willem Botha came to power as President.
December 1979 Escape of Tim Jenkin, Stephen Lee and Alex Moumbaris from prison in Pretoria.
1980 MK changes its strategy of attacking symbolic targets to attacking important institutions and installations of the apartheid State. In the following years an oil refinery, a power station and military installations were heavily damaged. For the first time there were civilian victims of the attacks.
1983 The United Democratic Front, UDF, was formed. It was made up of 600 organisations with two million members in a federal type structure.
1984 Militant youths took over power in the townships. They set fire to schools, buses and businesses and killed alleged collaborators with the police. “Radio Freedom” sent out the ANC call to “make the country ungovernable.” The all powerful apartheid State Security Council took over the executive and governed under State of Emergency regulations.
December 1984 Archbishop Tutu was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize
28 February 1985 Denis Goldberg released from prison.
20 July 1985 State of Emergency conditions intensified – tens of thousands of activists arrested. MK decided “to take the armed struggle to the white suburbs.”
15 August 1985 President PW Botha said in his live broadcast “Crossing the Rubicon” speech: “Today we have crossed the Rubicon and there can be no turning back.” Economic sanctions were beginning to bite. Start of secret negotiations about negotiations between Nelson Mandela and the apartheid Government. The most important independent trade unions founded the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) as a federal structure to coordinate their activities.
1987 From 13 January to 23 March the apartheid South African forces were defeated at Cuito Carnavale in Angola by Angolan and Cuban forces in the greatest battle on the African continent since the end of World War 2.
May 1987 2,5 million take part in a two day Stay-at-Home in response to the White elections on 6 May. Apartheid secret forces bomb the COSATU headquarters building.
11 June 1987 Mandela Concert in Wembley Stadium in London. 600 million people throughout the world watched the live television broadcast
5 November 1987 Govan Mbeki released from prison.
1989 President PW Botha replaced by FW de Klerk after a long power struggle within the ruling National Party. This opening up of the apartheid system led to intensified secret talks with Nelson Mandela and also separately with OR Tambo represented by Thabo Mbeki
14 October 1989 Walter Sisulu, Ahmed Kathrada, Raymond Mhlaba, Andrew Mlangeni, Elias Motsoaledi, Wilton Mkwayi released from prison.
11 February 1990 Nelson Mandela released.
March 1990 First round of talks inside South Africa between ANC and apartheid Government. In Natal violent conflict between Inkatha and ANC reach unprecedented levels. Repression by police and murder squads intensified. The conflict became a virtual civil war in the townships in and around Johannesburg. State Security forces stoked the conflict through massacres and attacks on civilians to destabilize the country. The conflict was brought to an end shortly before the 1984 elections and had taken between 10000 to 12000 lives.
March 1990 Bomb attack by the South African secret services on the ANC office in Sweden.
27 April 1994 First free general election. The ANC won with a large majority and Nelson Mandela elected President by the new parliament. He was later installed as the first President of the free democratic South Africa. The Government decided on the broadly discussed RDP, Reconstruction and Development Programme, to meet the basic needs of the mass of the people.
1995 The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) began its work.
1996 The Government pushed through under the influence of the World Bank, a change in economic policy from RDP to the neo-liberal GEAR policy (Growth, Employment and Redistribution).
16 June 1999 in the parliamentary election the ANC increased its majority. Thabo Mbeki was elected President by Parliament.
2003 Parliament received the report of the TRC. 22000 victims or relatives of victims gave evidence before the Commission. Many facts about human rights violations under apartheid were revealed. 37672 Human Rights Violations were established including 9980 Fatal Human Rights Violations. The perpetrators were given amnesty from criminal and civil proceedings in exchange for full testimony about their actions.
2004 At parliamentary elections in April the ANC received nearly seventy per cent of the votes. Thabo Mbeki was re-elected president.
9 May 2009 Jacob G Zuma becomes the new President.
Denis Goldberg has received several awards:
1988 Feb 5, City of San Francisco Special Mayoral Greeting
1988 April Albert J. Luthuli African Peace Award by a group of 12 US organisations: American Friends Service Committee, American Red Cross, and others
2009 Order of Luthuli (Silver) by president of South Africa Honorary Life Member Unison Trade Union, United Kingdom* Visiting Professor and LL.D (h.c.) Glasgow Caledonian University Ph.D. (h.c) MEDUNSA
2010 Federal Republic of Germany: Cross of Order of Merit (Verdienstkreuz am Band)
2012 Military Veterans Medal (Platinum Class II) Mahatma Ghandi Satyagraha Peace Award by Ghandi Development Trust, Durban October 6 Randburg Ward 102 Branch of the ANC named Denis Goldberg Branch World Scholar award by City College, Glasgow
2014 ANC re-elected to Parliament with 62% of the vote but lost support in Johannesburg (Gauteng) and Nelson Mandela Bay Metro (Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape)