White Man's Justice: South African Political Trials in the Black Consciousness Era

By Michael Lobban | Go to book overview

3
Black Consciousness on Trial

The day after the Viva Frelimo rallies, ten people were formally charged in connection with the events in Durban, and on the next day the net cast wider, with raids on the homes of Drake Koka of BAWU, Mathe Diseko of NAYO, Jeff Baqwa, Ruben Hare, and Steve Biko. In addition, the Johannesburg branches of BCP and BPC were raided, as were the homes of many members of the organizations. Twelve who had attended the rally were charged under the Riotous Assemblies Act, though they were all participants rather than organizers. The authorities were clearly using the rallies as a pretext for a wider crackdown, for those detained at the end of October under the Terrorism Act included those, like Mapetla Mohapi in King William's Town and Barney Pityana in Port Elizabeth, who had played no part in the rallies. Further arrests would be made in January, when Sadecque Variava and Solly Ismail were arrested. This general round-up was in preparation for a major trial: but as yet it remained wholly unclear who would be charged and what the charges would be. This was not resolved until the last day of January 1975, when twelve men (soon to be thirteen) appeared to be charged in the Pretoria magistrates' court.


The Accused and the Charges

The fact that this was to be a trial of ideas and culture as much as a trial for action was reflected in the organizations represented by the thirteen accused: BPC, SASO, the People's Experimental Theatre (PET), and the Theatre Council of Natal (TECON).1 Only seven of the accused had played

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1
The accused were primarily office bearers (past or present) in their respective organizations. In order, they were Saths Cooper, founder member of BPC and its Public Relations Officer until his banning in Mar. 1973; Muntu Myeza, Secretary General and former President of SASO; Mosioua 'Terror' Lekota, Permanent Organizer of SASO; Aubrey Mokoape, who had been instrumental in founding and running BPC but who was not an office bearer; Nkwenkwe Nkomo, chairman of the Daveyton branch of BPC; Pandelani Nefolovhodwe, national president of SASO and former Turfloop SRC President; Gilbert Kaborane Sedibe, Turfloop SRC President and SASO member; Ruben Hare, Vice President of SASO; Strini Moodley, former Director of Publications at SASO and the organization's administrative assistant; Sadecque Variava, organizer of PET; Zithulele Cindi, Secretary General of BPC; Solly Ismail, Director of PET; and Sivalingam Moodley, Director of TECON and a member of SASO.

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