The State of Emergency is declared in thirty six magisterial districts.

Military vehicles on the streets during one of the country's numerous States of Emergency Image source

Saturday, 20 July 1985

The increasing popular resistance and violent township protests amid the 1980s forced the South African government to declare a State of Emergency. On 20 July 1985, President P.W. Botha announced that violence in the country showed that "ordinary law and order was inadequate”.

• Anon, (n.d.),‘State of Emergency in the mid-1980's’, from South Africa [online] Available at:, [Accessed: 15 June 2011]
• South African History Archives, 'A State of Emergency', [Online], Available at:, [Accessed: 23 July 2013]

Last updated : 12-Jul-2019

This article was produced by South African History Online on 19-Jul-2011

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