Yusuf Dadoo Timeline: 1960 - 1969


March 16, The Boycott Movement, in London, is renamed the Anti-Apartheid Movement (AAM).  Tennyson Makiwane, Vella Pillay and Abdul Minty, South Africans in exile, play a significant role in the Boycott Movement.  The Anti-Apartheid Movement vigorously campaigns for sporting, cultural, academic and economic boycott of South Africa.

March 19, The Pan-African Congress (PAC) announces, that it will embark on a campaign against the pass laws from Monday, the 21st March.

March 21, The bloodiest massacre in the history of South Africa takes place at Sharpeville, Transvaal.  The police open fire on an unarmed crowd, killing 69 men, women and children and wounding 186.  In Langa, Western Cape, police open fire and five people are killed and hundreds are injured. The Pan Africanist Congress retaliates by calling for a work stoppage that lasts for two weeks. Ninety five percent of the workforce goes on strike. Pan Africanist Congress youth take control of the Cape Town townships of Langa and Nyanga, setting up roadblocks. The state calls in the military. The townships are cordoned off and the situation is brought under Government control. The Alliance partners began mobilising mass action in response to the Sharpeville Massacre.  Immediately the African National Congress (ANC) calls for March 28 to be observed as a day of mourning.

March 22, Hendrik Verwoerd  tells the South African Parliament that the riots, in no way, can be described as a reaction against the Government's apartheid policy and has nothing to do with passes. He announces that 132 members of the Pan Africanist Congress, including Robert Sobukwe, are being held in Johannesburg and are to be charged with sedition.

March 23, Robert Sobukwe, President of the Pan Africanist Congress and Kitchener Leballo, its national secretary, as well as 11 others are charged with incitement to riot.

March 24, The Government issues a ban, prohibiting all public meetings of more than 12 persons until June 30 in an effort to disrupt the wave of protests against the pass laws.

March 27, The Commissioner of Police announces that the Pass Laws are to be suspended until a normal situation has been restored. He says that the Pass Laws are not being suspended to appease the unfounded protests of” Bantu agitators”, but because the jails can no longer accommodate the many Africans who present themselves for arrest by openly violating the pass laws.

March 27, On the instructions of the ANC, Oliver Reginald Tambo leaves South Africa illegally to continue its work and to open bases outside South Africa's borders as well as to secure international support for funding and for military training.  He crosses the border into Bechuanaland (Botswana).  Chief Albert Luthuli publicly burns his pass.

March 28, The African National Congress calls a nation-wide stay-at-home in protest against the Sharpeville Massacre.  Several hundred thousand African people across the country stay at home.  In Johannesburg people take to the streets.  Pass books are burnt in countless bonfires.

March 29, Dr Yusuf Dadoo makes his last public appearance in the country, outside the courthouse, when the remaining accused in the long drawn out Treason Trial are on trial.

March 30, The Government declares a State of Emergency. The Public Safety Act of 1953 allows for people to be held indefinitely.  Nearly 2 000 political activists and leaders, are arrested in early morning raids and detained without trial for up to five months.

At lunchtime, 30 000 Africans from the surrounding African townships march into the centre of Cape Town, led by a 23 year old student in short pants, Philip Kgosana, and demand an interview with the Minister of Justice, Frans Erasmus.  The Chief of Security promises to approach the Minister and the crowds march out of Cape Town. Immediately after they disperse, Erasmus announces in Parliament that a State of Emergency has been declared in 80 magisterial districts, including every important urban area, and that 18 regiments of the Citizens Force have been mobilised to supplement the police, army and air force.

Chief Albert Luthuli is detained and held until August.  He is tried and sentenced to a fine of £100, and a six-month suspended sentence.

Dadoo, Moses Kotane and Michael Harmel go underground the morning before the Government's declaration of the State of Emergency.

March 30, Ben Turok manages to slip the police raids.  He finds refuge at a safe house belonging to Ralph Sepal, a former member of the Communist Party and a friend of Turok's.  A day or two later Dadoo makes contact with Moses Kotane, Ben Turok and Michael Harmel at Sepal's home.  The group becomes the Party's nerve centre.  Dadoo, his usual convivial self, cooks for the group.

Winnie Dadoo is arrested and detained for five months at the Johannesburg Fort with Hilda Bernstein, Rica Hodgson, Molly Fisher, Violet Weinberg and Sonia Bunting.

April 1, A State of Emergency is proclaimed in 31 more magisterial districts.

April 7, The Unlawful Organisations Bill is rushed through Parliament.  The Unlawful Organisations Act No 34 provides for organisations threatening public order or the safety of the public to be declared unlawful.

April 8, Justice Minister Erasmus declares the African National Congress and the Pan Africanist Congress unlawful organisations.  He announces the banning of the African National Congress and Pan Africanist Congress immediately after the promulgation of the Unlawful Organisations Act.

April 9 - 10, The Communist Party of South Africa (CPSA) needed a representative in London to serve the struggle from outside.  In consultation with the South African Indian Congress (SAIC), it decides that Dadoo be sent overseas to assist the Party "with the organisation of solidarity work and to consolidate the external apparatus" of the Party.  Dadoo was not happy with the decision that he should go abroad.  He argued vigorously that his place was in the underground and that is where the people would expect him to be.  He is overruled, and, as a disciplined Communist and revolutionary; he submerges his own wishes and feelings and carries out the collective decision.

The South African Communist Party plans Dadoo's escape carefully right down to the last detail.  He attends his last South African Communist Party cell meeting in Jeppestowe, after which Wolfie Kodesh, a South African Communist Party member takes him on the first leg of his escape.  He then drives Dadoo to a designated spot in Johannesburg's northern suburbs where Dadoo's brother, Ahmed, is waiting to drive him through the second leg of his escape.

That night, he is driven to Magaliesburg where he spends the night. His mother was brought there from Krugersdorp to see him.  It is to be their last meeting. The next day Dadoo crosses the border into Bechuanaland (Botswana) where he spends a few days in a hut in a rural settlement with friends.

April 14, According to a police intelligence report, Dadoo arrives in Francistown where he meets Tambo.  Tambo is already here on 12 April.  Together with Ronald Segal (who had driven Tambo to Bechuanaland) they depart for Palapye.

April 15, They leave Palapye for London, via friendly African states, to set up an overseas mission of the Congress Alliance.  Frene Ginwala informs Dadoo that she has managed to acquire travel documents from the Indian Government.  Tambo and Dadoo then board a plane chartered by the Defence and Aid Fund bound for London.  With them is the writer and activist Ronald Segal who had transported Tambo from Cape Town to Johannesburg.  From here they cross the border. The plane stops in Malawi to refuel.  The Malawian authorities promptly detain the pair for deportation to South Africa. Following legal representation, the pair are allowed to proceed on their journey on a legal technicality.  In Blantyre, they stay at the home of Philip Howard.  From Blantyre, they travel to Dar-es-Salaam.  Frene Ginwala, then based in Dar-es-Salam, arranges a plane to get them out.

Julius Nyerere welcomes Dadoo and Tambo in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Dadoo arrives in London and goes to the India League offices where they provide him with a room in the attic of their premises.  From here, they travel to Ghana, where Kwame Nkrumah welcomes them in Accra.  Tambo is well aware that Indians and Communists are not welcome in some African states as they view the Pan Africanist Congress as being the dominant liberation movement.

April 19, The African National Congress calls for another nationwide stay away in the wake of government repression.

May 6, The Government states in Parliament that 18 000 persons have been arrested and detained since the proclamation of the state of emergency.

June, The representation of Africans in Parliament ends.

June, During the middle of the emergency, Michael Harmel proposes to a meeting, of six people, then underground, that the Party announces its existence.  Amongst others present is Ben Turok, Joe Matthews (who had come from Lesotho) Moses Kotane and Harmel.

June 19, O.R. Tambo establishes the South African United Front (SAUF) in London. It is an alliance of the ANC, SAIC, Pan Africanist Congress, South West African Peoples Organisation (SWAPO) and South West Africa National Union (SWANU). The South African United Front advances the South African cause all over Britain, appearing on radio, television and giving newspaper interviews.  The South African United Front also sends delegations to Egypt, Nigeria and Guinea and to the UN.  They focus on countries, especially those that are members of the Commonwealth, the aim being to have South Africa ostracised and removed from the Commonwealth.  They also travel to India, Malaysia and Sri Lanka to lobby their Prime Ministers

July 14, The Communist Party of South Africa, issues a leaflet, announcing, for the first time, to the country and the world, its existence as the South African Communist Party (SACP) operating underground after its dissolution in 1950.  The leaflet calls on workers to rally against the fascist Government and all its pernicious laws.

July, Dadoo, accompanied by Vella Pillay, makes his first trip to Russia.  They officially represent the South African Communist Party.  This meeting lays the foundation for regular relations between the South African Communist Party and the Soviet Union.  Dadoo and Pillay hold talks at the Moscow headquarters of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU).  They present reports on South Africa after the Sharpeville crisis and on the situation within the SACP with regards its having operated underground and its decision to announce itself.

August, Winnie Kramer leaves on an exit permit for Israel immediately after her release from detention.  She reunites with Dadoo in London, where they marry.  Together, they have a daughter, Roshan.

August, Dadoo sends a message of support to the 16th Annual Conference of the Transvaal Indian Youth Congress.

August 31, The state of emergency is lifted - 10 500 opponents of the Government are still in detention.

November, Vella Pillay, Michael Harmel and Joe Matthews accompany Dadoo to the Soviet Union again, this time, to attend the International Meeting of Communist and Workers Parties. A few days before to the conference, Dadoo and Vela Pillay accepted an invitation from the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party (CPC) to meet in Peking, China. Dadoo described this meeting as both "extraordinary" and "bizarre”.  After initial hosting courtesies, they're put in a room for four days to listen to presentations about the entire policy of the CPC, their international relations and their domestic pursuits during sessions that last three hours at a time.

November 3, SACP delegation led by Dadoo meets with Mao Zedong in China. The Chinese accuse the Communist Party of the Soviet Union of being revisionist and try to win support for their position.  Dadoo explains that conditions in South Africa are very different from those in China and that the struggle is likely to take different forms. Later in November, the SACP met with a Chinese delegation led by Teng Shiao Ping in Moscow. After years of publicly supporting the Chinese Party as part of the world Communist movement, the Communist Party of China does reciprocate the favour due to the SACP’s relationship with the CPSU. The leaders of the Communist Party of China instead choose to offer their support to the anti-Communist PAC rather than the ANC, who they accused of being “running dogs of Moscow.”

The Chinese position comes as a shock to the South African Communists since they had actively canvassed support for the Communist Party of China, even at the UN.  They had made no critical comments on China's internal policy, and in common with the rest of the world Communist movement, tried to settle differences of approach by discussion, to, better, preserve the unity of the Communist movement but the Communist Party of China does not reciprocate.  The Communist Party of China leaders respond branding the ANC as "running dogs of Moscow" and begin to give material and political assistance to the anti-Communist Pan Africanist Congress.

The delegation then travels to Moscow where they address a meeting on South African issues.  After the meeting, further discussions are held with the Russians.  The boycott of South African goods is raised. The South African Communist Party is concerned about reports it had received of the sale of South African wool to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.  The Ministry of Foreign Trade assures the delegation that the wool was actually purchased from Australia.  Furthermore, it claims that Soviet organisations had stopped signing contracts with South African companies in November 1960 and had been looking for alternative ways of selling Soviet diamonds in an effort to stop all dealings with the South African diamond company, De Beers.


Dadoo visits Malaysia, Ceylon, Pakistan and India with a South African United Front delegation. In New Delhi, he holds discussions with Nehru.  Nehru assures the delegation that India would take a very determined stand against apartheid as they consider it the most obnoxious system existing in the world at that time.  Dadoo, as the South African Indian Congress representative to the South African United Front (SAUF) is part of the SAUF delegation to a number of African countries.  The delegation agrees that each constituent organisation take a turn to present the SAUF's case. They travel to Egypt, where they met President Abdul Nasser. From Egypt, the delegation travels to Nigeria where Prime Minister Tafawa Balewa pledges his full support. Then it was on to Guinea to meet Sekou Toure.  Here, Dadoo is the main spokesperson.  Sekou Toure, likewise, pledged his support to the delegation.

March, Dadoo takes over the Chair of the London New Age Committee Party (LNAC) and embarks on a fund raising drive.  Two hundred contributors attend a LNAC party where Paul Robeson, the famous African American singer and actor, gives a recital; a £200 cheque and a photograph of himself with the inscription, with best wishes to New Age.

March, Dadoo issues a statement, from London, to South Africans, on South Africa's expulsion from the Commonwealth 'The enforced withdrawal of South Africa from the Commonwealth is a resounding victory for our people, and marks an historic step forward in our struggle against apartheid and for democratic rights'.

March 25 - 26, The All-in- African Convention, in Pietermaritzburg, calls for a general strike to be held on May 31 if the regime refused to hold a national convention of all the people of South Africa to consider a response to the impending declaration of a republic. Nelson Mandela appears at the convention after his banning orders expire the previous day. He is elected leader of the National Action Council (NAC) which is charged by the Conference with the campaign for a national convention and if the Government ignores this with a campaign in protest against the inauguration of the Republic of South Africa.

May 29 - 31, Tens of thousands of people of all races take part in the strike which overshadows the Republican celebrations.

August, The National Executive of the banned African National Congress meets secretly on a farm in Groutville under the chairmanship of Chief Luthuli.  On the same night the Natal Indian Congress (NIC) and the Transvaal Indian Congress (TIC) meet in Tongaat.

The two Executives prepare for the issue to be discussed at the joint Executive meeting of the Congresses to be held the next evening.  The joint meeting takes place at the beach house of the Bodasingh Family near Stanger.  The debate goes on through the entire night.  Chief Luthuli presides over the meeting.  He opens the meeting stating that the Executive of the African National Congress had met and decided to allow the formation of an organisation that would engage in violent forms of struggle.  Despite this decision, he requests individual members of the African National Congress Executive to feel free to participate and express their individual views on the matter. There is now a shift towards contemplating violence as an easy way of mobilising people in the face of repression.  Nelson Mandela is unrelenting in championing the turn to violence.  As dawn creeps, the debate is wrapped up and the decision taken by the African National Congress endorsed.

August, Dadoo details the ANC's 'Government in Exile' plans in an article in the New Age in London.  The weekly prints his postal address in London so that birthday messages can reach him.

September, A group, including Raymond Mhlaba, Andrew Mlangeni, Wilton Mkwayi, Steve Naidoo, Joe Gqabi and Patrick Mthembu, leave the country illegally and spend six months undergoing military training in China.

October, Dadoo and Kotane attend a Communist Party of the Soviet Union meeting in the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.  Kotane is visiting Russia after 25 years. Under Khrushchev's leadership, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union adopts a new programme that promises to build a Communist society in the lifetime of one generation.  The two hold talks with the Communist Party of the Soviet Union where the main topic of discussion is the turn to the armed struggle.

December 16, uMkhonto we Sizwe (The Spear of the Nation - MK) is launched.  A series of explosions takes place in Durban, Johannesburg, and Port Elizabeth.  The manifesto of uMkhonto we Sizwe declared it is a new independent body — it includes in its ranks South Africans of all races. Although MK is formed as an organisation affiliated to, but separate from the ANC, it is widely contended that the South African Communist Party influenced its formation.

December, Dadoo is present at Tanzania's independence celebrations in Dar-es-Salaam


January, The Anti Apartheid Movement (AAM) organises the 50th anniversary of the African National Congress at the Africa Unity House in London.  Dadoo is the guest speaker.  He speaks of a relationship that Indian South Africans share with Africans in the political struggle saying that they had worked together, had gone to prison together and would continue to struggle together.  African National Congress speaker, Robert Resha, with regards to the ANC and SACP Alliance claims, that the African National Congress does not ask its supporters whether they are communist or conservative, only if they stood for freedom.

The fifth South African Communist Party National Conference takes place underground in Johannesburg.  This Conference adopts a new Party Programme, 'The Road to South African Freedom'.  In the pre-Conference period Dadoo studies the draft and makes suggestions and amendments.

March 13, The South African United Front is dissolved in London, after it is discovered that the Pan Africanist Congress, whilst participating in the Front, was establishing its own connections, in questionable ways in order to establish their financial support.  They were also in contact with a United States trade union movement, through which they were receiving funds.

April, Dadoo visits India to attend the opening of the African National Congress office in New Delhi.  At a press conference he appeals to the Indians to seek a boycott of South Africa's attendance at the UN Conference on Trade and Development which is to be held in New Delhi later in the year.  He visits Bombay (Mumbai) before returning to London.  

May 23, From South Africa, Bunting writes to Dadoo asking him to organise for the maximum possible protest' at the imminent banning of the New Age newspaper.  Dadoo immediately launches a protest campaign in London.  As Chair of the London New Age Committee (LNAC), he writes a Declaration calling the Bill (in South Africa to ban the New Age) 'astonishing, grim and disturbing'.  Dozens of well-known British writers and politicians sign the declaration, including William Plomer, Basil Davidson, Doris Lessing, Kingsley Amis, Iris Murdoch, Muriel Spark and Robert Bolt.

June 7, Dadoo sends a copy of the Declaration and its signatories, to all newspaper editors in the United Kingdom asking them to write editorials condemning the actions of the South African Government.

June 8, Yusuf Dadoo and Vella Pillay meet Nelson Mandela and Tambo in London.  Mandela tells Dadoo and Pillay that the ANC must be represented only by Africans at international conferences and not by the Alliance.

June, Dadoo is in India to attend a meeting convened by the National Council of the Indian association for Afro- Asian solidarity. Dadoo visits India meets with Nehru.

August 5, Nelson Mandela disguised in a chauffeur’s uniform is arrested in Howick, Natal, with Cecil Williams, a theatre personality, a member of the South African Communist Party and the Springbok Legion.

September, Dadoo and Tambo meet Nehru at the home of the Indian High Commissioner, MC Chagla in London.  The main topic of discussion is the exile status of the liberation movements.  Dadoo appeals to Nehru and Chagla to apply pressure on other countries to cut economic and political ties with South Africa.  In 1963, India bans South Africa from its airspace.

November 30, The Congress of Democrats (COD) is banned under the Suppression of Communism Act.   Most of the staff of New Age are house arrested and banned.


April 17, The involvement of Indians  in the new phase of the armed struggle is established when five MK members, Laloo Chiba, Sirish Nanabhai, Indres Naidoo, Reggie Vandayar and Abdulhay Jassat are arrested and charged with sabotage.

Chiba is subsequently released. Jassat and another detainee Moosa Moola escape from Marshall Square Police Headquarters together with detainees Arthur Goldreich and Harold Wolpe.  They leave the country and go into exile.  Sirish Nanabhai, Indres Naidoo and Reggie Vandayar are convicted of attempting to blow up electricity pylons and are sentenced to ten years imprisonment.  Chiba is to be arrested again in 1964 and sentenced to 20 years imprisonment.

Dadoo and Ramesh Chandra, the President of the World Peace Council  (WPC) hold lengthy discussions on colonialism and racism.  Subsequently the two become very close friends. Dadoo undertakes a tour of Africa as part of a WPC delegation.  They visit Kenya, Tunisia, Algeria, & Ghana in an endeavour to set up local Peace Committees in Africa. The WPC emphasises disarmament and peaceful co-existence between countries with different social systems.  Again, he meets Oginga Odinga, who is advancing progressive policies for Kenya.

June 2, Joe Slovo, accompanied by JB Marks, leaves South Africa for exile in London where he meets Dadoo.

July 11, The Security Police arrest Walter Sisulu, Ahmed Kathrada, Govan Mbeki, Raymond Mhlaba, Rusty Bernstein, Dennis Goldberg, Arthur Goldreich and Bob Hepple at Lilliesleaf Farm, Rivonia. Later Hazel Goldreich was also arrested when she returned home to the farm.

December 8 -9, The first meeting of South African Communist Party Central Committee is held in Prague with seven of the nine Central Committee members including the Chairman and the General Secretary attending.


April, Dadoo addresses the UN Special Committee on South Africa for the first time.  The United Nations sets up a special committee to keep apartheid under review, calling for an embargo on the supply of arms, ammunition and military equipment to South Africa and the release of all political prisoners.  Later the call is extended to a boycott of all South African goods and the ending of exports into South Africa.

July, The second meeting of the South African Communist Party Central Committee is held in Moscow.

Dadoo participates in a demonstration of 20 000 in London people organised by the Anti-Apartheid Movement against Mandela’s arrest and imprisonment.

July, The Algerian Peace Committee awards Nelson Mandela the Joliot Curie Gold Medal for Peace.  Houari Souyah, President of the Algerian Peace Committee in Algiers makes the presentation to Dadoo.

Dadoo and J.B. Marks undertake a six-week tour of India at the invitation of the Afro-Asian Solidarity Committee and the All-India Peace Council. They meet political, trade union and cultural groups, addressing numerous meetings, discussions and press conferences.  These tours help raise awareness and builds solidarity networks in India and internationally.


May, The South African Communist Party meets to look at reconstructing itself.  It takes five years before the Party headquarters formally moves to London.

June, The first Morogoro Consultative Conference takes place in Morogoro, Zambia.  The Conference appoints Tambo as the Acting President of the African National Congress.

September, Tambo attempts to deal with the concerns of non-Africans in exile.  He forms a task committee to draw up proposals relating to the strengthening of inter-Congress co-operation at all levels.  Dadoo, Joe Slovo and Joe Matthews serve on this Committee.  The Committee favours opening the doors to all Congress Alliance members and even proposes a Council of War to coordinate the activities of all Alliance members.


Bram Fischer, the South African Communist Party National Chairman is arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment.  The SACP operates from underground.  Its structures within South Africa effectively collapse. JB Marks assumes Chairmanship of the Party externally, with Moses Kotane as General Secretary.

November, The Congress Alliance convenes a meeting to discuss problems affecting its functional efficiency.  The meeting elects a steering committee made up of Nokwe, Slovo, La Guma, MP Naicker, Harmel, Mark Shope and Ray Alexander. Members of the Alliance highlight various issues hampering the liberation struggle.

Serious splits and tensions occur in the African National Congress in exile.  The most vexatious issue is that of membership of non-Africans to the African National Congress.  Dadoo becomes increasingly perturbed by the opposition to open membership emanating from leading South African Communist Party and African National Congress members.  He demands that the African National Congress offer membership to non-Africans failing which he would consider quitting the Alliance if the issue is not resolved.  Dadoo is supported by senior ANC member Flag Boshielo who argues for members of other groups into the ANC.

December, Dadoo travels to Saudi Arabia to perform the Islamic pilgrimage known as Haj. He reunites with Cachalia who is exiled in Botswana. Here, Ahmed Timol meets Dadoo and Molvi Cachalia.  They have discussions that lead to the further politicisation of Timol. Timol is later killed at the hands of the Security Police at John Vorster Square, Johannesburg. After the pilgrimage, Molvi Cachalia goes to India with Alfred Nzo of the African National Congress where they establish the ANC office, the first mission in Asia.


January, The South African Communist Party Central Committee meeting takes place in Moscow.  The meeting critically assessed the internal situation of the SACP in the country following the arrest of Fischer when contact with members became increasingly difficult.


February, The Central Committee meeting lays the basis for the Party's participation in the Morogoro Conference.

May, Tambo writes to Dadoo after MK fighters clash on the eastern front with Rhodesian and South African soldiers reporting on the conflict.

For the first time since going into exile, Dadoo issues a leaflet directed at the South African Indian community.  It calls on them to support the armed struggle.


April 25 - May 1, The National Executive Committee of the African National Congress convenes a special consultative conference in Morogoro, Tanzania, which includes leaders of the Congress Alliance, to review its revolutionary perspectives and to seek solutions to some of the problems, which conditions of exile has created in the fields of organisation and style of work.  The Morogoro Conference aimed to establish a political and structural framework, which would integrate revolutionaries of all the national groups living in exile into the external mission on an equal basis.  Only the composition of the National Executive Committee is not affected. Dadoo is the South African Communist Party representative.  A special body known as the Revolutionary Council is established.  Joe Slovo, Reg September and Dadoo are elected, among others, to serve on this body. For Dadoo, the resolutions of the Morogoro Conference is the realisation of a lifetime spent campaigning for unity. For him, also yet another singular honour and a supreme political responsibility is to be Vice-Chairman of the Revolutionary Council, the supreme organ created by the African National Congress to advance the struggle for the armed seizure of political power.

June, At the first formal meeting of the African National Congress and South African Communist Party, after Morogoro, Tambo speaking on behalf of the African National Congress calls the ANC and South African Communist Party 'two pillars' of the struggle. Slovo and Dadoo are present at this meeting.

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