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Vol. 1 No. 3
THE UNION OF SOUTH AFRICA 3/9
GREAT BRITAIN AND AFRICA 4/UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 7Sc
VOL. I No. 3
EDITOR RONALD M. SEGAL
So u t h A f r ic a
F l ig h t t o F r e e d o m
O p e n in g A d d r e s s f o r t h e D e fe n c e
T h e F reed o m
C h a rte r
Jo h a n n e sb u rg D ia r y
P O EM S
T he N atal Men ace
by Violaine Junod
by Senator Leslie Rubin
a n d t h e Je w s
by Flora Snitcher
by L. B. Lee-Warden, M.P.
A f r ic a n T r a g e d y
by Phyllis Ntantala
T h e K e n y a C r is is
by Basil Davidson
D e s e g r e g a t io n a n d t h e U .S . L a b o u r M o v e m e n t
M y G r e a t D is c o v e r y
by Margaret Ballinger, M .P.
by Claude de Mestral
M e m o ir s o f a T r ib a l is t
by Willard S. Townsend
by Tony O'Dowd
T h e H ead m a ster ’s Bo o k s
by John Tann
by Anthony Delius
- 1 0 7
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A f r ic a n L a n d a n d P r o p e r t y R ig h t s
Jud gm ent D ay
T h e C rim e o f L a n g a
D r a w in g s
by Maurice Webb
T h e E is e le n S ch e m e
T h e B e l g ia n C o n g o
W h ite L ib e r a ls a n d t h e T r e a s o n A r r e s t s
A f r i k a n e r N a tio n a lis m
by Adv. V. C. Rer range
by Gordon Saunderson
by Langston Hughes
MR. L. LEE-WARDEN, M.P.
CHIEF A. J. LUTHULI
DR. G. M. N AICK ER
T H I S ISSUE IS
DE D IC A TE D
HUNGARY AND SOUTH AFRICA
N o w h e r e else in the w orld was support for the Hungarian
rebellion m ore vigorous than in white South Africa. Afrikaans
students paraded fervently in Pretoria and Stellenbosch against the
Soviet terror and men and wom en from the plushest Englishspeaking suburbs rushed into the centre o f the cities to collect
and give money for relief. N ot since the unmentionable days
of the Second Front was there such emotional pre-occupation
w ith the affairs o f Eastern Europe. There could be no doubt that
white South Africans w ere profoundly stirred by the reports of
Hungarian civilians protecting their country w ith rifles and sticks
against the tanks and heavy artillery o f the Russian army. And
throughout this convulsion o f anger and compassion that seized
the country, it was sympathy w ith the ideals o f the rebellion that
provided the strongest stimulant. It was ultimately in the cause
o f freedom and the right of a people to self-determination that
the students o f Pretoria marched in procession through the
streets and the citizens o f Cape Tow n and Johannesburg so
generously collected and gave.
A ll this must have been greatly puzzling to the millions o f black
South Africans who suffer every day the multitudinous private
agonies o f the oppressed and whose lives in the prison o f their
colour are every bit as bleak and cramped as w ere those o f the
Hungarians. It is hardly surprising therefore, that many o f them
read the reports o f the rebellion in the ‘ w hite’ press w ith an
easy scepticism. It was grotesquely inconsistent that a govern
ment w hich held them so tightly by the throat should applaud
the loosening o f the strangle-hold on any other subject people.
O f course there is truth in the rem ark that the South African
government and the South African whites would support any
people, regardless o f the issue, which fought against the Soviet
Union. But this is surely only part o f the truth. In the Hungarian
rebellion, it was the issue itself that gripped w hite South Africa
by the heart. M r. M ikhel Truu, the leader o f a group o f Stellen
bosch students who volunteered to do relief w ork among the
Hungarian refugees in Austria, set the question securely on its
feet in an article w ritten for the Cape Argus late last year.
“ The Stellenbosch movement to render personal help to the
Hungarian victim s o f Communism is founded on the incompati
bility o f the ideals o f Communism and those o f a free w orld ” , he
H U N G A R Y
A N D
S O U T H
A F R I C A
“ W e protest against the flagrant destruction o f the
most elementary rights that any human being is entitled to
possess—personal freedom , free worship, security and family
Coming from students at a University usually identified w ith the
hunchback ideology o f the Nationalist Party, this was a quite
unexpected stride into the twentieth century, a splendid affir
mation o f faith in the rights o f man. If it meant indeed precisely
what it said, here at last was a whisper from out the conscience
o f Afrikanerdom , the first motions o f a revulsion against the
politics o f oppression from deep within the vaulted mind o f the
Afrikaner people. Surely those who believed so strongly in the
right o f every human being to personal freedom , security and
family life would now begin to struggle against its denial in their
ow n country.
A certain ‘ B .P .’ read M r. T ru u’ s article and immediately
replied that the right to personal freedom , security and family
life was a right persistently denied to the vast m ajority o f South
Africans and that it would be m ore fitting if the students at
Stellenbosch U niversity concentrated their attention upon “ the
flagrant destruction o f the most elementary rights that any human
being is entitled to possess” taking place so ruthlessly before
Indignantly, together w ith a fierce and rather
devious defence o f apartheid, M r. Andre L. M uller, a m em ber o f
the Stellenbosch m ovement, w rote back: “ If B .P . still feels that
there is a suppression o f individual freedoms in South Africa
nothing prevents him from thinking so—just as nothing prevents
the Stellenbosch and University o f Cape Tow n students from
thinking that this is the case in Hungary. B.P. should realize that
everybody does not necessarily have the same political outlook as he has” .
This was not a reply, it was a revelation. Here at last was the
soul o f South Africa, stripped and standing out in the open. For
freedom in South Africa is not an absolute right, to be enjoyed
by all men as their natural portion. It is a m atter o f political
outlook, and “ the elem entary rights that any human being is
entitled <feo possess” remain rights only this side o f the colour line.
Crossing over, they shrink into presumptions and provocations.
The truth is that the normal w hite South African does not
think in terms o f freedom at all when he thinks in terms o f
Africans or Indians or Coloureds. Hungary and South Africa
present totally different issues to his mind because Hungary is
white and w hite men are born to certain unalienable rights. If
A F R I C A
S O U T H
non-whites w ere w hite they also w ould be human beings and
entitled to possess personal freedom , security and fam ily life.
This is the reason so many whites in South Africa are so aston
ished when they read or hear the accusation that non-whites in
South Africa are oppressed. For oppression entails a moral
judgment and the whites do not judge the non-whites m orally.
W here no rights are admitted, no oppression can be acknowAnd so, in this midnight w orld o f m oral schizophrenia, what
would be a massacre o f unarmed civilians in Hungary becomes
police action to restore law and order in an African township.
The inhumanity o f mass deportations in Eastern Europe becomes
the policy o f separate development and the removal o f black
spots from urban areas. The indoctrination o f helpless white
children in Hungary is that brutal effacement o f personality
essential to the continued existence o f the police state. The
indoctrination of black children in South Africa is Bantu
Education. This is the reason that the Hungarian rebellion was
for all white South Africa the heroic struggle o f a desperate
people for freedom and self-determination, and riots in our
African locations are irresponsible outbursts o f savagery stim u
lated by agitators and Communists for their ow n ends. It has
been said that most white South Africans have very pliable con
sciences. In fact, o f course, when they think o f Africans or Indians
o r Coloureds, they have no consciences at all.
And so the South African governm ent, without seeing anything
bizarre in its gesture, grants a token £2^ ,000 for the relief o f
Hungarian refugees. The impudent hypocrisy o f one tyranny’ s
assisting, in the name o f freedom , the victims o f another, makes
one wonder at the extent to w hich even the South African
government is capable o f m oral effrontery. It cannot be believed
that the M inister o f Justice, by whose edicts so many men have
been prohibited from expressing their political convictions, can
remain chastely unaware o f the w ork o f his Department. Y et
in his N ew Year message to the country, he declared that w e
should all thank God that South Africans w ere living in a free
country and should consider ourselves lucky and be grateful that
w e lived in such a South Africa. The picture o f nine m illion
Africans sinking onto their knees in thunderous gratitude for the
liberties they enjoy in South Africa is a profoundly improbable
one. And the kindest thing one can say about its author is that
he is living in a m oral dream -world o f his own.
H U N G A R Y
A N D
S O U T H
A F R I C A
And so w hite South Africa deceives itself perpetually, deceiving
itself nowhere so com pletely as in its faith that the non-whites
too are taken in by the m oral fraud. The whites may not think
o f the Africans and Indians and Coloured people in terms of
rights and freedoms at all. But the non-whites do. They know
that they are oppressed and they know to what rights as men
they are naturally entitled. If the government does not see
reason in time and continues to reply to their cries for liberty
with batons and sten-guns, bannings and prison sentences, i f its
only reaction to the suffering o f the non-white peoples is to
increase it, one day sooner or later what has happened in Hungary
may happen in South Africa too. And the men and wom en of
South Africa who have never known what it is to order their
lives in freedom , may take for themselves what they have so
brutally for so long been denied. And when that happens, not
the least tragic aspect o f it all w ill be the utter moral astonish
ment o f most o f the white population. Not even in the final
disaster that they are so scrupulously preparing for themselves,
w ill they understand.
“ FLIGHT TO FREEDOM”
Caption above a front page picture in the Cape Argus o f Hungarian refugees arriving at
Ja n Smuts Airport, Johannesburg, to settle in South Africa.
THE FREEDOM CHARTER
We, the people o f South Africa, declare for all our country
and the world to know—
That South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and
white, and that no government can justly claim authority
unless it is based on the w ill o f all the people;
That our people have been robbed o f their birthright to
land, liberty and peace by a form o f government founded
on injustice and inequality;
That our country will never be prosperous or free until all
our people live in brotherhood, enjoying equal rights and
That only a democratic state, based on the will o f all the
people, can secure to all their birthright without distinction
o f colour, race, sex or belief;
And therefore, we, the people o f South Africa, black and
white together—equals, countrymen and brothers—adopt
this Freedom Charter. And we pledge ourselves to strive to
gether, sparing nothing o f our strength and courage, until
the democratic changes here set out have been won.
THE PEOPLE SHALL GOVERN
Every man and woman shall have the right to vote for and
to stand as a candidate for all bodies which make la w s;
All people shall be entitled to take part in the administration
o f the co u n try;
The rights o f the people shall be the same, regardless o f
race, colour or se x ;
All bodies o f minority rule, advisory boards, councils and
authorities shall be replaced by democratic organs o f selfgovernment.
ALL NATIONAL GROUPS SHALL HAVE EQUAL RIGHTS
There shall be equal status in the bodies o f state, in the
courts and in the schools for all national groups and races;
All people shall have equal right to use their own languages
and to develop their own folk culture and customs;
All national groups shall be protected by law against insults
to their race and national pride;
The preaching and practice o f national, race or colour dis
crimination and contempt shall be a punishable crime;
All apartheid laws and practices shall be set aside.
A F R I C A
S O U T H
THE PEOPLE SHALL SHARE IN THE COUNTRY’S WEALTH
The national wealth o f our country, the heritage o f all
South Africans, shall be restored to the people;
The mineral wealth beneath the soil, the Banks and mono
poly industry shall be transferred to the ownership o f the
people as a w h o le ;
All other industry and trade shall be controlled to assist the
well-being o f the people;
All people shall have equal rights to trade where they
choose, to manufacture and to enter all trades, crafts and pro
THE LAND SHALL BE SHARED AMONG THOSE WHO WORK
Restriction o f land ownership on a racial basis shall be
ended, and all the land redivided amongst those who w ork it,
to banish famine and land hunger;
The State shall help the peasants with implements, seed,
tractors and dams to save the soil and assist the tillers;
Freedom o f movement shall be guaranteed to all who work
on the land;
All shall have the right to occupy land wherever they
People shall not be robbed o f their cattle, and forced labour
and farm prisons shall be abolished.
ALL SHALL BE EQUAL BEFORE THE LAW
No-one shall be imprisoned, deported or restricted without
a fair trial;
No-one shall be condemned by the order o f any Government
The courts shall be representative o f all the people;
Imprisonment shall be only for serious crimes against the
people, and shall aim at re-education, not vengeance;
The police force and army shall be open to all on an equal
basis and shall be the helpers and protectors o f the people;
All laws which discriminate on grounds o f race, colour or
belief shall be repealed.
ALL SHALL ENJOY EQUAL H UM AN RIGHTS
The law shall guarantee to all their right to speak, to
organise, to meet together, to publish, to preach, to worship
and to educate their children;
F R E E D O M
C H A R T E R
The privacy o f the house from police raids shall be pro
tected by la w ;
All shall be free to travel without restriction from country
side to town, from province to province, and from South
Pass Laws, permits and all other laws restricting these free
doms shall be abolished.
THERE SHALL BE WORK AND SECURITY
A ll who w ork shall be free to form trade unions, to elect
their officers and to make wage agreements with their employ
The state shall recognise the right and duty o f all to work,
and to draw full unemployment benefits;
Men and women o f all races shall receive equal pay for
equal w o rk ;
There shall be a forty-hour working week, a national mini
mum wage, paid annual leave, and sick leave for all workers,
and maternity leave on full pay for all working mothers;
Miners, domestic workers, farm workers and civil servants
shall have the same rights as all others who w o rk ;
Child labour, compound labour, the tot system and contract
labour shall be abolished.
THE DOORS OF LEARNING AND OF CULTURE SHALL BE
The Government shall discover, develop and encourage
national talent for the enhancement o f our cultural life;
All the cultural treasures o f mankind shall be open to all,
by free exchange o f books, ideas and contact with other lands;
The aim o f education shall be to teach the youth to love
their people and their culture, to honour human brother
hood, liberty and peace;
Education shall be free, compulsory, universal and equal
for all children;
Higher education and technical training shall be opened to
all by means o f State allowances and scholarships awarded on
the basis o f m erit;
Adult illiteracy shall be ended by a mass State education
Teachers shall have all the rights o f other citizens;
The colour bar in cultural life, in sport and in education
shall be abolished.
A F R I C A
THERE SHALL BE HOUSES, SECURITY AND
S O U T H
All people shall have the right to live where they choose,
to be decently housed, and to bring up their families in
comfort and security;
Unused housing space to be made available to the people;
Rent and prices shall be lowered, food plentiful and no-one
shall go h u n gry;
A preventive health scheme shall be run by the State;
Free medical care and hospitalisation shall be provided for
all, with special care for mothers and young children;
Slums shall be demolished, and new suburbs built where all
have transport, roads, lighting, playing fields, creches and
The aged, the orphans, the disabled and the sick shall be
cared for by the State;
Rest, leisure and recreation shall be the right o f a ll;
Fenced locations and ghettoes shall be abolished, and laws
which break up families shall be repealed.
THERE SHALL BE PEACE AND FRIENDSHIP
South Africa shall be a fully independent state, which re
spects the rights and sovereignty o f all nations;
South Africa shall strive to maintain w orld peace and the
settlement o f all international disputes by negotiation—not
w a r;
Peace and friendship amongst all our people shall be secured
by upholding the equal rights, opportunities and status o f a ll;
The people o f the protectorates—Basutoland, Bechuanaland
and Swaziland—shall be free to decide for themselves their
The right o f all the peoples o f Africa to independence and
self-government shall be recognised, and shall be the basis
o f close co-operation.
Let all who love their people and their country now say,
as w e say here: “ These freedoms we w ill fight for, side by
side, throughout our lives, until we have won our liberty.”
G O R D O N SA U N D ER SO N
Staff, Sunday Times.
A n o t h e r “ emergent A frica” phase is at w ork in Johannesburg.
W hite thoughts, w here whites think, are again being directed
beyond the African present o f pass, prison and voetsak to the
days when the non-white community w ill be granted rights as
On one day in January . . .
One hundred and fifty men and wom en, most o f them educated
Africans, sat in a m ilitary hall in Johannesburg, undergoing
preparatory examination on allegations o f treason. Outside the
hall 500 policem en deployed, swung arrogant batons and in their
m ore leisurely moments laughed and grinned together like the
crowd o f back-veld youngsters that they w ere. African spectators
w ere dispersed whenever they knotted into a crow d.
Ten m iles away and a few hours earlier, about 25,000 Africans
had walked, cycled, ridden in taxis or private cars, cadged lifts
on trucks or donkey carts, from their homes in steamy Alexandra
Township, 10 miles from the heart o f the city, to their w ork.
They would not catch buses to w ork, and they would not catch
them home again. A penny had been added to the single fare of
4d.—and the bus boycott was on. W ithin two days it was
x00% effective. No reports o f the intimidation o f prospective
passengers w ere made.
In a private home in Johannesburg an African “ w ashgirl” —
a woman engaged to spend a day a w eek washing and ironing the
w eek’s laundry — looked at the pile o f sheets, shirts, serviettes
and towels and almost scornfully asked, “ W h ere’s the washing
m achine?” There was none. So without apology — her action
in tiny individual form a declaration o f independence in her own
life — she left the house. The w hite housewife did the w eek ’ s
And in Main Street, Johannesburg, a hatted, suede-shoed and
smartly-dressed African man o f perhaps 35 jive-stepped along
the pavement singing to him self “ N uttin’ But a Hound-Dog” .
He was an Elvis Presley fan and liked rock ’n roll.
In the melange o f African grow th, it is possible to spotlight
an incident out o f all proportion to its significance. But all over
A F R I C A
S O U T H
the R e e f such sparks o f what can be called progress, some small
and some big, are visible.
The leash w hich the whites feel so necessary for their own
safety is again being felt as a restraint.
Dramatic interest has at least tem porarily departed from a hear
ing which the spokesman for the defending counsel, M r. V . C.
Berrange, likened to a political plot comparable w ith the period
o f the Inquisition or the Reichstag fire trial in Germany.
It was not an ordinary case, said M r. Berrange, in comment on
“ the crude and jackboot manner in which the arrests o f the
people before the court w ere effected” .
Alm ost as i f to point up his m oral, the presiding magistrate,
M r. F. C. A. W essel, asked, “ W hat m anner?”
And M r.
Berrange hammered home his point. “ Jackboot methods, s ir ,”
It was outside the court that the jackboots had trodden hard on
D ecem ber 17 and 18 .
A seasonal industrial shut-down over the few w eeks o f Christ
mas had left thousands o f African men and wom en at a loose end
for activity and entertainment. Some o f them got it outside the
D rill Hall w here bullets zizzed, batons thudded, stones w ere
flung, cops grinned and Africans got hit.
There has been a tendency to over-estim ate the importance o f
D ecem ber’ s events outside the D rill Hall. Subsequent quietness
has shown that the police “ demonstration o f strength” was
just another round in the old South African game o f “ police
versus Africans” (albeit one o f the games most threatening to
future law and order in the country). Tem pers on both sides rose
only during the actual violence, not before and not afterwards.
The police won — but not without loss o f dignity. The w ord
picture o f a beefy police officer dashing down the street shouting
to his men, “ Stop that firing,” had its touch o f humour.
Equally telling was the incident o f the young constables’ being
lined up after the unordered firing, the ones who had fired
being asked to step forw ard to have their names taken — and
then the revolvers and ammunition o f those who had not steppedforward
being checked just in case everybody was not telling the truth.
The police officers probably knew their men best; but suffice
it to say that Pressmen who saw the violence w ere emphatic
that the police w ere at fault in their handling o f an admittedly
difficult situation. There w ere few good words said for the way
out that the police took.
J O H A N N E S B U R G
D I A R Y
From the “ Treason C ourt” , w here politics are paramount,
to Alexandra Township is a little m ore than 10 m iles. But it
must represent 1,0 0 0 miles o f discouragement to supporters o f
the apartheid-minded Nationalist Governm ent who have believed
in the effectiveness o f the “ wither-away-the-African-leadership”
W ith, presumably, the “ cream ” o f their leadership in the
Treason Court or silenced by banning and other Governm ent
orders, including exile, the residents o f Alexandra Township,
Sophiatown (and also Lady Selborne Township in Pretoria),
have organised, made effective and kept orderly a boycott o f all
Public U tility Transport Corporation passenger buses.
From the first mooting o f the boycott — the issue being the
one-penny rise in the fare o f 4_d. — the situation had serious
overtones. Perhaps “ serious” is not a strong enough w o rd ;
“ critical” perhaps described the potentialities o f the boycott
For the Africans the boycott, once started, had to be w on. If
the boycott struggle w ere lost, it would be a perhaps decisive
For the Nationalists the boycott had to be b ro k en : there could
be no concession — as indeed the whole apartheid philosophy
of the Nationalists makes concession to African requests im
That much was apparent from the first day that the Africans
started walking instead o f riding in PU T C O buses.
What was not so apparent was that on January 1 8 the GovernorGeneral was to announce that legislation would be introduced
during the January-June Parliamentary session to increase the
poll tax paid by all male Africans.
If the bus boycott is protracted and eventually needs its scope
enlarged so as not to get bogged down in sheer longevity, then
a boycott o f the new tax increase would be a logical field for the
extension o f the boycott m ovement.
And that would be m ajor w hite-black show-down material.
Another., lesson learned from the bus boycott, even in its
early stages, is that it is on econom ic issues that the Africans of
South Africa are able to secure that mass action which is the bad
dream o f the w hite baasskap (mastery) adherents.
One hundred per cent effectiveness was quickly achieved in
the boycott. There was in the African mind a fear o f reprisals
for breaking the boycott, even though the threat may not have
A F R I C A
S O U T H
been loudly proclaim ed by the boycott leaders.
In other words, there is intimidation — but it is intimidation
o f the trade union type, the intimidation w hich makes a South
W ales coal m iner shy away from becoming a “ black-leg” when
his fellow unionists call a strike.
That in itself is an African step-forward towards what might be
called an “ industrial psychology” . It is a token o f the future
and another sign o f developing African maturity.
There is one m ore factor in the boycott situation which (at the
time o f writing) deserves comment. W ith negotiations on issues
such as this w hittled down to nil, w ith other means o f expression
proved useless or disallowed, the boycott has becom e possibly
the sole African weapon in the struggle o f the Black community to
have its voice heard and its wishes considered.
And if a boycott is started, as was the bus boycott, in the spirit
o f “ W e w ill not give up — w e w ill w alk for months if neces
sary” ; and the automatic reaction o f the Governm ent authorities,
as has been the Nationalist reaction, is “ W e w ill not be intim i
dated” , then there is little ground for com prom ise.
The w hole picture presents a rather stormy prospect.
LA N G ST O N HUGHES
In the Johannesburg mines
There are 240,000 natives w orking.
W hat kind of poem
W ould you make out o f that?
240,000 natives w orking
In the Johannesburg mines.
THE WHITE LIBERALS AND THE
V IO LA IN E JU N O D
Lecturer in Native Law and Administration,
University o f Natal.
S o u t h A f r i c a n whites tend to think o f opposition to the
governing party, i.e . political opposition, in the purely parlia
mentary sense. But w ith the increasingly ruthless removal o f
the political rights which the non-whites at one time enjoyed1 ,
another opposition has been steadily growing up—an extraparliamentary opposition, increasing in strength as each new
group found itself shut out from normal parliamentary channels
of political expression.
At first this extra-parliam entary opposition was exclusively
non-white and w hite liberals never identified themselves actively
with it in any o f its protests. In the twenties, with the formation
of the Communist Party, a few whites joined its ranks. Although
their numbers w ere small in relation to the total w hite group,
the importance o f their participation was to give this opposition
a truly inter-racial character, i.e . to lift the conflict out o f the
racial into the ideological field.
The process gathered momentum in the thirties when white
trade union leaders became active in the formation and creation
of both non-white and m ixed trade unions2. The w ar years saw
a decline in activity on this front. But by the m id-forties there
was a rebirth, and after the election o f the Nationalist G overn
ment in 1948, the inter-racial political front gathered con
siderable strength. The 19 52-^3 Defiance Campaign brought
together groups, mainly African and Indian, which had hitherto
kept a mutually suspicious distance. The threat to the Coloureds
of removal from the common electoral roll, and their final
removal last year, com pleted the non-white united front.
Throughout this period the w hite liberals, who until 195-3 had
1 The Indians w ere disenfranchised in the Natal C olony in 189 6 . The Africans o f the
Cape were rem oved from the common ro ll in 19 3 6 and given 3 European seats in the
House of Assembly. For the entire Union a system o f electoral colleges was devised
which entitled Africans to send white representatives to the Senate. A fter the passing
of the Senate A ct the Coloureds w ere rem oved from the common roll and are to be
given separate representation.
2 Deprived as they are o f parliamentary channels o f political expression, non-whites
have used trade unions as political pressure groups. African trade unions to this day are
not legally recognized. This does not apply to the Indian and Coloured unions.
A F R I C A
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no real political home3, tended to function outside this front.
For exam ple, in the anti-Pass campaign o f the ’ thirties, the
resistance to the famous Hertzog Acts o f 19 36 , and the 1946
Passive Resistance Campaign o f the Indians to the “ Pegging”
A ct, those whites who did participate, small in numbers, w ere
for the most part members o f the then still recognized and legal
Communist Party, close fellow travellers and militant liberals
whom “ respectable” liberals tended to disown.
The term liberal, in the South African context, is a very
elastic one. Its definition in South Africa is prim arily based on a
repudiation o f the colour bar and the repressive legislation
w bich enforces it, and the term w ould cover those w ith possibly
w idely differing views on other national and international
political problem s. And it covers both “ p olitical” and “ social”
Political liberals are those prepared to enter the
political arena, both parliamentary and extra-parliamentary.
The social liberals prefer to w ork in the non-political field, for
example through organizations such as the South African
Institute o f Race Relations, the Penal Reform League, the
various w elfare organizations and church bodies, believing that
in this manner m ore can be achieved for the liberal cause.
The form er are m ore militant than the latter, and there is
frequently a m arked division o f opinion betw een the tw o,
particularly regarding tactics and method.
Militant liberals have always been very small in numbers, but
this has not prevented them from wielding an influence out of
all proportion to their numbers. A ll of them are w ell known
household names to-day: for exam ple, the Reverend Michael
Scott, Father T revor Huddleston and M r. Patrick Duncan.
Each, in his own way, has identified actively w ith the non
whites in their struggle. The activities o f Father T revor Huddle
ston are legion and number amongst them one o f the bravest
and most effective protests against the Bantu Education Act.
The Reverend Michael Scott’ s name w ill long be linked w ith
that o f the Bethal farm labourers and the 1946 Indian Passive
Resistance campaign. M r. Pat Duncan w ent to jail for an act o f
“ defiance” during the 19^2 Defiance Campaign.
The Nationalist Governm ent’ s administrative and legislative
actions have made it perfectly clear that it is prepared to adopt
extrem e measures against those groups o f persons or individuals
3 In that year the Liberal Party o f South A frica was form ed. It is the only political
party w ith an inter-racial membership, w hich n ow totals some 1,7 0 0 South Africans.
THE W H ITE LIBERALS A N D THE TREASO N ARRESTS
it regards as its opponents. It has taken to itself arbitrary powers
of punishment and adopted insiduous but most effective tech
niques o f intimidation. This has placed the white liberal in
particular in a dilemma, as w ill be shown later. Nonetheless
the process o f identification o f liberals with non-white groups
has both increased and gathered momentum.
Co-operation between the five main organizations concerned
in the Treason arrests4, has been a m atter o f course and policy
over the last five or six years.
Though each, apart from
S .A .C .T .U ., represents a particular racial section o f the South
African community, they have joined issue on all matters
affecting the non-whites. Many o f their members have either
been “ named” or banned or both, and a very large number
went to jail during the 19 5 2 -5 3 Defiance Campaign. They form
the core o f the militant extra-parliam entary opposition. On
the fringes have stood the churches, both w hite and non-white,
and political parties such as the Labour and Liberal Parties.
The latter co-operated on certain specific issues, but on the
whole preferred to maintain their identity as separate groups,
issuing separate statements and taking separate action when and
if deemed necessary. It would probably be very near the truth
to say that differences in outlook, in regard to the interpretation
of the South African scene, but m ore particularly, differences in
emphasis concerning the most suitable action to be taken at
any given time and place, kept these two currents ap art: the one
militant, and joined from time to time by a few militant liberals,
the other m ore cautious and hesitant.
Nonetheless examples o f co-operation between these two
streams w ere becoming m ore and m ore a matter o f practical
politics. An admirable example o f this co-operative effort is to
be seen in the opposition to the Group Areas A ct and its im ple
mentation. In Natal the N .I.C . called a Group Areas Conference
in July last year. The Conference was opened by M r. Lovell,
Labour M .P ., and attended by a strong Liberal Party delegation,
including its National Chairman, M r. Alan Paton, its two
Deputy-CJiairmen and a number o f office bearers. A result o f
this Conference was the formation o f a very active Vigilance
4 The African National Congress ( A .N .C .) ; the South African Indian Congress (S .A .I.C .)
with two branches the Natal Indian Congress (N .I.C .) and Transvaal Indian Congress
(T .I.C .); the ‘ w hite’ Congress o f Dem ocrats ( C .O .D .) ; the South African Coloured
Peoples Organization ( S .A .C .P .O .) and the South African Congress o f Trade Unions
(S.A .C .T .U .). These five organizations are generally referred to as the Congress M ove
A F R I C A
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Com m ittee representative o f the Liberal Party, N .I.C ., A .N .C .
(Natal Branch) and C .O .D . Its task ever since has been to
make a close study o f Group Areas’ proposals, to keep the
people concerned inform ed, and to awaken w hite opinion in
particular to the hardships and injustices o f Group Areas
A w eek before the Treason arrests a protest march o f women
against the extension o f passes to African wom en was staged in
Pieterm aritzburg. W om en came from all over Natal and though
by far the greater proportion w ere Africans, Indian, Coloured
and European wom en (all active members o f the Liberal P arty),
participated. By some oversight the organizers o f the march had
forgotten to obtain the necessary perm it to proceed through the
city, as a result o f which 623 wom en present w ere summarily
arrested by a police officer and taken to the local charge office.
It was later discovered that the bye-law in question was ultra
vires and all charges w ere consequently w ithdrawn. The effect
o f this mass arrest, the largest in the U nion’s history, was
electric. The w hites’ readiness to identify to the hilt w ith
Africans in their protest and to face the consequences imme
diately made for a warm atmosphere o f solidarity which no
amount o f talking could previously encourage.
Following the Treason arrests liberals all over the Union came
to the fore. Co-operation w ith the Congress movement was
immediately effected without question. There was a job to be
done and to be done quickly. In Durban a Civil Liberties
Defence Com m ittee was set up on the day o f the arrests. On
it sat members o f the Liberal Party, N .I.C ., A .N .C ., C .O .D . and
other individuals. Meetings w ere held, funds w ere collected
for the immediate needs o f the accuseds’ dependents and bail,
an information and public relations service was started, and so
on. A w eek later the National Treason Trial Defence Fund was
launched, sponsored by leading South African citizens o f all
races representing the clergy, the legal profession, universities,
members o f Parliament and representatives o f the Federal,
Labour and Liberal Parties.
Though not exactly part and parcel o f this process o f identifi
cation o f whites and non-whites, but nonetheless relevant to it,
was the Bloemfontein Conference called by the Inter-denominational African M inisters’ Federation in O ctober o f last year.
There, 394 African delegates, drawn from all parts o f the Union
and representing all shades o f African political opinion, gathered to
THE W H ITE LIBERALS A N D THE TREASO N ARRESTS
discuss soberly and study seriously the Tom linson R eport. A
few liberal whites attended as observers. The result was the
issuing o f that masterly and statesmanlike document, the
Bloemfontein Charter5. It is a call to South Africans, be they
black or w hite, to oppose m ore positively the doctrine o f racial
separation, in the belief that it is only on the basis o f racial
co-operation that the problems of this country can be effectively
and peacefully solved. From this has em erged the idea o f an
inter-racial “ United F ro n t.”
Although its structure is still
nebulous and its final form still a m atter o f speculation, the idea
of this front has captured the imagination o f all liberal South
Africans concerned about the future o f their country.
Analysing in b rief these developments, w e find that the stage
is being steadily and surely set for an ever greater and increasing
amount o f inter-racial co-operation, and this despite vigorous
Government opposition and an ever widening net o f intimidatory
W hat effect have the Treason arrests had on the inter-racial
political front and m ore particularly, how are they likely to
affect w hite liberals?
It would be idiotic to suggest that radical changes are taking
place. Nonetheless the very removal o f i^6 recognized leaders
inevitably has made for internal adjustments w ithin the five
organizations concerned. It has also necessitated the drawing
in o f new elements to fill the void, in part from groups which
had hitherto not fully identified themselves w ith the Congress
movement. Many groups o f people or individuals who have
hitherto refrained from positive participation in the inter-racial
political front are having to make a serious decision.
It is perfectly obvious that active participation in the inter
racial political front is a serious, in fact dangerous, business.
A w hite liberal who decides to join forces w ith non-whites and
thus both strengthen and widen the front, must inevitably
expose him self to the many punishments w hich the Government,
under its large array o f vindictive legislation, has the pow er to
inflict: ‘ “Nam ing” and/or banning under the Suppression of
Communism Act, passport refusal and possibly the imposing of
The present Nationalist Governm ent bases its whole political
ideology on the prem ise that white and non-white interests are
* Vide A FR IC A SO U T H , vol. I, no. 2, pp. 22-26.
A F R I C A
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absolutely and for all times irreconcilable. Nothing therefore
incurs its displeasure to greater measure than the identification o f
whites with non-whites, particularly if and when this identifi
cation assumes a positive and active form . Most o f the G overn
m ent’ s legislative and administrative programme since 1948 has
been designed therefore to prevent and prohibit contact, be it
political or otherw ise, between whites and non-whites. W ere
it not for the participation o f whites in the extra-parliamentary
front, the conflict could becom e a purely racial one, and it is
the dangerous and important task o f w hite liberals to help keep
it at the ideological level.
It is clear then that any w hite who wishes to becom e part and
parcel o f a truly inter-racial “ United Front” must be prepared
firstly to identify fully w ith the non-whites and secondly to
accept readily any hardships or restrictions on his personal
freedom w hich the Governm ent may see fit to impose. The
conditions o f active service are laid down by the non-whites and
it is precisely this w hich arouses the Governm ent’ s strongest
There is yet another aspect o f the South African situation
which makes the choice for the w hite liberal even m ore difficult
and problem atic. It has to do w ith the very status o f the w hite in
South African society. By nature o f his whiteness, whether he
wishes it or not, the w hite finds him self in a privileged position—
financially, socially, professionally or occupationally, residentially, recreationally.
Political involvement o f the type earlier described may mean
his having to forfeit all or some o f these privileges and possibly
his job too. A w hite who gets so involved, rightly or w rongly,
is immediately regarded by other whites—and that means
99-9% o f the w hite population—as an extrem ist, a “ re d ,” and
“ com m y,” and so begins the slow and painful process o f
ostracism from his own racial and, at tim es, social group. The
fact that his action may be acclaimed by many non-whites and
the greater section o f the outside w orld cannot fully compensate
for his sense o f loss, his immediate unhappiness, his loneliness.
Non-whites who becom e so politically involved stand to lose
as much in the material sense—jobs, incom e, and so on. But
rather than becom ing outcasts in their ow n community, they
become the acclaimed leaders, the heroes, and the martyrs.
Such then are the many problems w hich beset w hite liberals
in South Africa, such the challenge o f the situation and more
THE W HITE LIBERALS A N D THE TREASO N ARRESTS
precisely, the challenge o f the Treason arrests. W hat o f the
The call issued by the Africans at the Bloemfontein Conference
for a “ United Front” must be answered. If the whites o f this
country, and the onus is on the w hite liberals, fail to rally to this
call, South Africans may w ell miss their last opportunity to
co-operate with non-whites in seeking a non-racial solution to
their country’ s problem . The w hite liberals therefore have a
heavy responsibility to shoulder and one m ore precisely form u
lated since the rem oval o f so many o f the leaders in the inter
At the same time liberals recognize that the
Government is m ore than likely to use the tools, hitherto used
to silence the ideas and voices o f thousands, to silence them, too.
This is the critical hour for all South African liberals. What
is their response likely to be?
Their immediate response
following the early hours o f “ Treason D a y,” jth Decem ber, was
magnificent. They w ere shocked into a state o f busy activity.
To-day the sense o f urgency is no longer so com pellingly with us
and all have been given time to think. It is not for us to prejudge
but rather to suggest a serious consideration o f the stirring call*
issued at Bloemfontein last O ctober.
“ We call upon all South Africans who realize the dangers
and effects o f apartheid to take a positive step to break
down the colour bar in their group relations. W e urge
them furthermore to ensure that democratic and Christian
opinion expresses itself on discriminatory legislation in
ways most likely to impress on the mind o f the people o f
South Africa the urgent need for a positive alternative to
apartheid or separate development.”
AFRIKANER NATIONALISM AND
SE N A T O R LESLIE RU BIN
Senator Representing the Africans o f the Cape Province.
N . D i e d e r i c h s is an important m em ber o f the Nationalist
party. Acknowledged as something o f an econom ic expert, both
w ithin and beyond the ranks o f his party, he delivers w ellprepared and thoughtful speeches. As a rule he sticks to his
specialised field. He often talks about industrial matters, and
was chosen by the Governm ent, early in the parliamentary
session o f this year, to move the motion urging an increase in
the price o f gold. He is thought to be in the running for Minis
terial honours if the cabinet should be enlarged.
D r. Diederichs recently had something to say which referred
to the Jew s in South Africa. He said it in the course o f an address
to an Afrikaner com m ercial organisation which received w ide
_ publicity. The Afrikaner, he said, could be congratulated upon
the progress he had made in recent years in the industrial and
com m ercial fields, but other sections o f the population still had
a disproportionate share o f the country’ s economic wealth, and
the Afrikaner must continue the struggle to alter this undesirable
state o f affairs. (Although the Jew s are not mentioned, there is
no doubt that the statement refers to them as one o f the sections,
the other being the English.)
This is, o f course, an oblique restatement o f the familiar
thesis o f econom ic anti-Sem itism : the Jew s are not ordinary
citizens o f the country, but a distinct com petitive group threat
ening the rightful econom ic destiny o f Afrikanerdom . For many
a discerning South African Je w , the statement recalled memories
o f those frightening days, in the thirties, when a number of
versions o f overseas Jew -baiting movements flourished in a
greater or lesser degree, in this country; or—what is more
important—reminded him that there was a time when the garb
w orn by the Nationalist Party was quite different from its present
p o st-1948, rather consciously pro-Sem itic, new look.
W hen D r. Malan came to pow er in 19 48 , his party set itself
the task o f wooing the Jew s. It was a difficult task. The Nation
alists sided openly w ith the Nazis w hile they w ere practising the
cold-blooded destruction o f millions o f Jew s and preaching the
total elimination o f the Jew ish people. In Parliament (during
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the war) prominent Nationalists offered up fervent prayers for a
Nazi victory. In 1943 the W itwatersrand Local Division o f the
Supreme Court o f South Africa held that D r. V erw oerd, as
Editor o f Die Transvaler, had knowingly made him self a tool o f the
Nazis in South Africa. Eric Louw kept up an unremitting attack
upon South African Jew s. His main thesis was their unassimilability; he sometimes developed the thesis w ith arguments
reminiscent o f Streicher’ s “ D er Stuerm er” . D r. V erw oerd
used the columns o f Die Transvaler to maintain that Jew s should
be relegated to an inferior position in the life o f the country.
At one stage, for exam ple, he urged strongly that a numerus
clausus should be introduced in the universities, thus limiting
the participation o f Jew s in professional activities.
Extracts from some o f Eric Louw ’ s speeches before and during
the w ar w ill illustrate D r. Malan’ s difficulty. Speaking in the
House o f Assembly on the £ February 1 9 4 1 : “ Then the G overn
ment also gets support from another section w hich in no sense
can be regarded as part o f the permanent population o f South
Africa, namely, the Jew ish population . . . The Prim e Minister
will admit that the Jew s are people who do not look upon any
country as their fatherland. W e saw evidence o f that in France.
When matters became serious there the Jew s took their money
and left the country. W e notice the same thing in South Africa. ’ ’
On the 13 May 19 4 0 : “ The fact remains that the Je w , right
throughout the w orld, be it South Africa or Europe or anywhere
else, has remained unassimilated, and he w ill remain so in South
Africa.” On the 16 May 19 3 9 : “ Let me tell the M inister . . .
that the public feel strongly about . . . the fact that that particular
race is engaged in getting control over the business places in
South Africa. They feel concerned about the extent to which
that race is commencing to get control over the professions and
occupations o f the cou n try.” On the 29 February 19 4 4 : “ They
are loyal to the country in which they reside so long as things go
well, but they shake the country’ s dust off their feet as soon as
things do not go w e ll; then they make a fresh start in some other
countryt and there they are again just as loyal until things go
wrong there. W e are told there are exceptions, but one swallow
does not make a summer, nor do half-a-dozen swallows make a
summer. ’ ’
Two factors assisted the wooing process. First, the Jew ish
businessman (and, in this respect, the English businessman was
no different) was ready to overlook Eric L ou w ’ s past, as long as
he was accorded normal facilities for pursuing his trad e; and as
M inister o f Econom ic Affairs, E ric Louw was in a position to
emphasise the sweet reasonableness o f the Nationalist government.
The impartial (and often—when compared w ith the previous
government—very efficient) issue o f im port perm its made it
easier for the Jew ish businessman to accept the argument that
the unpleasant things said during the w ar years w ere “ just
politics” which no one takes seriously, or the kind o f things that
a party says but does not really mean when it is in opposition.
The second factor was the creation o f the State o f Israel. A
strange m ixture o f motives made it easy for Malan (and Strijdom
has faithfully follow ed his lead since) and the Nationalists to offer
enthusiastic support to the new state. There was a sense of
affinity w ith the Israelis in having thrown off the British yoke.
A psychologist might have called it admiration for the achieve
m ent by another o f what was for them still a suppressed desire.
Then—this is a view which was put to me by a leading Afrikaner
intellectual w ith genuine feeling—many Nationalists saw the
success o f the Jew s against the Arabs as a victory o f W hite over
non-W hite. Malan himself, growing old, displayed and voiced
with much fervour a highly emotional people-of-the-book
enthusiasm for the restoration o f the Jew s to their ancient home
land in accordance w ith Biblical prophecy. This may w ell have
been genuine, but there is no doubt that it combined w ith m ore
practical expressions o f the new Governm ent’s goodw ill to make
the sympathy o f the Jew s inevitable.
Smuts had played into Malan’ s hands by displaying some hesi
tation in declaring unequivocal support for the new state which
came into existence before the Election o f 1948. He had given
to it South A frica’ s defacto recognition only. The lifelong suppor
ter o f Zionism was persuaded by political considerations to
withold full support for Israel for fear o f the capital that would
be made o f his action by Malan and his party. It is one o f the
ironies o f recent South African history that Malan, leader o f a
party w hich had attacked the Jew s, was able to use this half
hearted action by Smuts to peg a claim as the real friend o f the
Jew ish people. Shortly after the election the new Government
granted de jure recognition to the new state.
South African Je w ry , one o f the most actively pro-Zionist
communities in the w orld, responded w ith understandable
gratitude. W hen the new Governm ent added practical support
to its sympathy, by perm itting assistance in money and kind to
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go from South Africa to the struggling new state, Malan’ s victory
was wellnigh com plete. The Nationalists’ black record o f the
war years was soon forgotten, and before long Malan was being
honoured by the community upon which one o f his important
Ministers had until quite recently been heaping the grossest
It was important that the new Governm ent should cultivate
its newly-acquired reputation w ith the Jew s, particularly in the
beginning when it was not quite sure o f its strength and its
capacity to remain in pow er. So the party line was established
and assiduously guarded: Be friendly to the Jew s. It expressed a
policy which had a twofold justification: the m arch o f Afrikaner
nationalism must not be hampered by the opposition or hostility
of a group like the Jew s, and, in any event, all W hites must be
encouraged to stand together.
The party line stands, but it has encountered strains and
stresses. People encouraged to give the fullest expressions to
their weakness for Jew -baiting over a period o f years w ill, some
times, w ith the best intentions in the w orld to honour the
dictates o f their party leaders, forget themselves and say what
they really think about Jew s, rather than what the Party wants
them to say. A t times a man is provoked. O r he is caught off
his guard. W hen that happens the Party shows great concern,
and every effort is made to emphasize its pro-Jewishness.
Last year some newly-appointed Senators made anti-Semitic
remarks in the course o f a debate. Reporting the occurrence,
the Parliamentary correspondent o f the Bloemfontein Friend said :
“ On that occasion D r. Donges (M inister o f the Interior) was in
the House and he showed signs o f real agitation.” He added that
since then, several members o f both Houses, form erly “ notorious
for their anti-Semitism” , had “ gone out o f their way to greet and
be friendly to Jew ish members in the lobby and in the coffee
rooms” , the result o f a hint by the Cabinet to rem em ber that
the Party was “ strictly officially p ro-Jew ish ” . In its editorial
comment the same newspaper said it was hardly surprising that
Nationalist leaders w ere concerned at the incident because the
Government “ can hardly afford to have another item added to
its already formidable category o f hates” .
One of the Senators present during this incident was Louis
Weichardt, form erly leader o f an anti-Semitic movem ent known
popularly as the Greyshirts, which became active in South
Africa shortly after the Nazis assumed pow er in Germany. The
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fact that he was chosen by the Nationalist Party as one o f those
to be rewarded w ith a seat in the enlarged Senate, might con
ceivably be regarded as inconsistent w ith the Party’ s protestations
o f pro-Sem itism . It has certainly not made it easy for Jew s (and
non-Jew s, for that matter) who recall the activities o f the
Greyshirts, to accept those protestations as genuine.
Constitution o f the Greyshirts, under the heading “ The Jew ish
M enace” declared that it stands, inter alia, fo r: (a) the preven
tion o f any Je w whatsoever from holding any official position
in South A frica; (b) the treatment o f all Jew s m erely as tem por
ary guests in accordance w ith the provisions o f an Alien Statute;
(c) the disability o f Jew s to hold immovable property, directly
or indirectly, except w ith the permission o f the State. Senator
W eichardt, in speeches and through the columns o f a newspaper
called “ Die W aarheid” disseminated, for several years, vicious
anti-Jewish propoganda designed, in the words o f Smuts “ to
create ill-feeling and racial prejudice and in the end to lead to
breaches o f the peace” , including extracts from the alleged
Protocols o f the Elders o f Zion, repeatedly exposed as an
impudent forgery. Documents seized by the Attorney-General
at the Nazi headquarters in South W est Africa before the w ar
described Senator W eichardt as “ leader o f the South African
An associate o f Senator W eichardt in those days was J . von
M oltke, to-day a w ell-know n Nationalist M em ber o f Parliament.
In 19 3 4 an action for damages was heard in the Supreme Court
at Grahamstown, w hich became known as the Greyshirt trial.
The Rabbi o f the Port Elizabeth H ebrew Congregation claimed
damages for defamation against three men in respect o f a docu
ment alleged to have been stolen from the synagogue and testi
fying to a secret Jew ish plot to destroy the Christian religion
and civilization. The Court held that no such document had in
fact been in the synagogue, and that it had been concocted by
some Greyshirts in order to advance the aims o f their movement.
One o f the defendants was von M oltke, at that time provincial
leader o f the South African Gentile Socialists, against whom the
Court awarded damages to the sum o f £7^ 0. Another o f the
defendants, was H. V . Inch, a provincial leader o f W eichardt’ s
Greyshirt m ovement. He was ordered to pay damages o f £ 1,0 0 0 ,
subsequently found guilty in respect o f the evidence given by
him at the trial o f uttering a forged document and perjury, and
sentenced to imprisonment for several years.
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Quite often comment in the Nationalist press is inconsistent
with the party line. For no apparent reason a report on some
event w ill make a point not otherw ise relevant w hich is calculated
to arouse anti-Jewish feeling. There are two recent examples o f
this tendency. The treason trials w ere reported at length and in
great detail in the South African press. It was Die Burger alone
that found it necessary to include in its front page description
of the opening o f the hearing a statement that a journalist had
said “ that it was remarkable how many Jew s there w ere among
the W hite persons arrested.” Sim ilarly only Die Transvaler had
occasion to refer to the number o f Jew ish students active in the
campaign against U niversity apartheid, a topic extensively
reported in all the newspapers.
These are some o f the factors that are beginning to w orry
Jew ish apologists for the Nationalist Party. They are wondering
whether the party has in fact undergone a change since the days
of Eric Louw , or w hether its p re-1948 anti-semitism has been
suppressed m erely as a m atter o f political tactics. Some are even
arguing that genuine sympathy w ith and aid for the State o f
Israel must not be confused w ith friendship for the Jew s in South
This questioning is a recent manifestation, and it is still only
tentative. Jew s react as Jew s only when they are singled out as
Jew s. O therwise they display the w ide range o f views to be
found among W hite South Africans as a w hole. Many o f them
have come increasingly to excuse and condone many aspects o f
Government programme and policy that they condemned in
19 4 8 ; or to submit m ore and m ore to indirect intim idation;
the fear, for exam ple, that opposition to the Governm ent w ill
be penalised by the refusal o f a passport. Some o f them, on the
other hand, are in the forefront o f the fight against Nationalist
apartheid and authoritarianism. The m ajority, unhappily, are to
be found in the first group. And in this they do not differ at all
from their non-Jewish fellow South Africans. O f all the generali
sations about the Jew s o f South Africa, that which charges them
with .being unassimilable is the least valid. They have, in fact,
assimilated only too w ell.
There are w ider and m ore fundamental questions. Is racialism
not indivisible? Does not apartheid, therefore, though directed
to Africans, Indians and an arbitrarily classified coloured group,
contain an im plied threat to any racial m inority? Such ques
tioning can only cause uneasiness among many South African
A F R I C A
S O U T H
Jew s, and the uneasiness is th ere; because for them, as for all
thinking South Africans, the test is not past assurances o f good
w ill, but the actions and pronouncements o f Afrikaner nation
alism from day to day.
THE NATAL MENACE
M A U R IC E W EBB
Past President, South African Institute o f Race Relations,
Ex Chairman , Adams College.
years ago I delivered a lecture to the Durban IndoEuropean Council after which questions w ere invited. A quiet,
friendly, Indian business man stood up and asked: “ W hy do the
W hite people hate us?”
Just that. I had known the questioner for many years. This
was the first and the only time that I have known him to speak in
I gave the only truthful answer that I could: “ I do not k n o w .”
It is useless to deny that Indians are hated in South Africa. The
commonly advanced reasons for the hatred do not hold water.
In this article I am mainly concerned with Natal, where I live
and w here four-fifths o f the Indians in South Africa live. This
form er British Colony is still the predominantly English speaking
province of the Union.
To me, an English speaking South
African, the question becom es: “ W hy do the people o f Natal,
who are predominantly British, hate the Indians?” O r, “ W hy
are the English in Natal so un-English in their hatred o f Indians?”
English settlement in Natal began around 18 30 . Natal was
annexed by Britain in 18 4 5 .
The first indentured Indian
labourers, many o f them for w ork in the sugar plantations, arrived
in i8 60 . Does the trouble go back to there? Did the white
settlers who came a little earlier resent the arrival o f newcom ers
in the way that even the best mannered o f a ship’ s passengers w ill
resent new arrivals who come aboard at a port o f call? They may
have felt that the large strange Zulu population that they had not
yet had time to know was problem enough without another
strange element being added. W hatever the cause, English-Indian
relations in Natal did not start oft so w ell as those o f the British
settlers in N ew Zealand w ith the Maoris they found w ell estab
lished there when they arrived in 1840.
N A T A L
M E N A C E
From i860 until nearly the end o f the century m ajority
opinion, as far as w e know it, was favourable to the Indians who
had made possible the rapid growth o f the sugar industry and
afforded appreciated labour in homes, on railways and on mines.
At the end o f their indentures many elected, as they w ere
entitled to do, to remain in Natal, w here they became, as the
Lieutenant-Governor, Sir Henry Bulwer, reported in 18 7 8 , “ in
all respects free men, w ith rights and privileges not inferior to
those o f any class o f the Q ueen’ s subjects in the Colony. There
are many who have acquired the right o f voting and are registered
But there w ere those who hated Indians right from the start.
The R ev. W . Holden, a Methodist M inister, opposed the
importation of Indian labour in 1 8 ^ j as did D r. Charles Johnston,
a m ember o f the Durban Tow n Council and an elected member
of the Natal Legislative Council. He lost his seat on the Legis
lative Council in 1859 because o f his anti-Indian view s, surely
the only time that an anti-Indian ticket has caused electoral
defeat in Natal?
In 1864, four years after the arrival o f the first indentured
Indians, Daniel Lindley, an Am erican Missionary living at Inanda
who had form erly been Predikant to a section o f the Voortrekkers, w ro te:
“ The skins o f these imported Indians is w ith some exceptions
intensely black. Some have a mullatto com plexion; but at
heart they are all jet black. They are indescribably wicked and
seem to me hopelessly lost now and forever. They are the
dregs of wickedness. They are under contract to the planters
for a certain period. W hen the time o f their servitude shall
have expired, they w ill be free to go and come as they may
like. Then w e shall have crim e and criminals to our heart’s
It may be assumed that Daniel Lindley expressed views which
were common among at least some o f his Natal neighbours. Such
feelings have persisted. A letter signed “ Cockney” in the Natal
Mercury o f N ovem ber 10 , 19 2 1 reads:
“ It is difficult to understand the mentality o f people like
‘ Fairplay’ (a previous correspondent) on the Asiatic problem .
His idea is that the Asiatic is w ith us and w e must make the
best of him. One might say the same o f the rat, or the fly or
the mosquito or any other dangerous v isito r.”
In 1948 M r. (now Senator) S. M . Pettersen was reported as
A F R I C A
S O U T H
having said of Indians in an election speech: “ Personally I would
like to solve the problem by shooting them, but a man cannot
lay him self open to a charge o f m u rd er.”
That before the end o f last century anti-Indian feeling had
ceased to lose politicians their seats and instead had become
increasingly pow erful is shown by these dates and even ts:
1893 Parliamentary franchise withdrawn.
1896 Riots in Durban on the arrival o f a shipload o f free Indians.
Gandhi was rescued from the mob by the C h ief Constable.
1 9 1 3 N ew Indian immigrants other than wives or children o f
established settlers prohibited.
19 2 2 - 2 3 Anti-asiatic clauses in title deeds legalised.
19 2 4 Municipal franchise withdrawn.
19 43 Transfer o f property betw een Indians and W hites con
trolled by the “ Pegging A c t.”
1946 The Asiatic Land Tenure and Indian Representation Act
confirmed the restrictions o f the “ Pegging” A ct but gave
a lim ited measure o f franchise in compensation.
franchise provisions w ere never promulgated.
1948 Franchise provisions o f 1946 withdrawn by amending Act.
19 jo Group Areas A ct from the operation o f which Indians are
clearly destined to be the ch ief victim s.
There have been 60 years o f declining status for the Indian of
South Africa. To-day he stands before the door o f South Africa
w ith surprising patience and says: “ I belong. I belong to the
human family by right o f m y manhood. I belong to the South
African nation which I and m y forefathers have helped to build.
I have earned admittance by hard w ork and sober w ays.” But
South Africa rep lies: “ Voetsak. Begone. G et into your Group
Areas, out o f my sight.”
W hy has Natal particularly, w ith its largely English speaking
population, been so un-English in its attitude to South Africans
o f Indian origin? In other respects Natal is pro-British to the
point o f being jingo. It is loud in protestation o f loyalty to the
Crow n yet betrays the concept o f a fam ily o f different but equal
nations and peoples o f w hich the Crow n is the symbol and which
is at the heart of the Commonwealth.
It was Smuts, the Afrikaner, w ho, when his largely English
speaking Party in Natal demanded the Asiatic Land Tenure Act,
insisted on the second chapter that gave some measure o f compen
sation by way o f franchise. W hen Malan w on his Apartheid elec
tion in 1948 and prom ptly repealed this second chapter, it was
N A T A L
M E N A C E
four English speaking United Party M Ps, three from Durban,
one from Maritzburg, who walked out o f the Assembly rather
than vote against him.
Elsewhere during this century the English have been ready to
understand and to foster the desire o f dependent people for
independence, to admit the claim to manhood and human dignity
on the part o f non-W hite people. But in Natal it was as if the
evil o f Apartheid had entered into them before that w ord was
known, stunting their spiritual grow th, isolating them not only
from their fellow South Africans o f another colour but also from
the stream o f thought and vision that was moving in the English
in other parts o f the w orld. There have been exceptions of
course, the Provincial Administration has shown real public
responsibility in respect of Indian education and hospitalisation,
but hatred o f Indians is widespread and politically dominant.
Professor Gordon Allport in his “ Prejudice in Modern Pers
pective” says a sign o f prejudice is “ basing love or hate on
beliefs that are w holly or partially erroneous” and quotes St.
Thomas Aquinas: “ Prejudice is thinking ill o f others without
sufficient w arrant.”
The beliefs on which hatred of Indians in Natal is based are, I
1. The Indian does not belong here. He should go back to India.
This was said to me the day I first arrived in South Africa bv an
English missionary who had devoted his life to the service of
Africans. The fact is that Indians belong here as much as any
other immigrants, w hether from Holland, Germ any, France,
Britain, or elsewhere. The English beat them to Natal by only
about 30 years. The first Indians came because they w ere wanted,
others came for exactly the same reasons that brought W hite
settlers. The only difference is that the first Indians came because
they were asked while the first W hites came without being asked.
2. Indians arc too prolific. They threaten to swamp us.
This is not a reason for dislike but a result o f it. Those who
like children or like chocolate w elcom e m ore children or m ore
chocolate. Those who dislike onions object to m ore onions. In
a rapidly developing industrial country, which South Africa is, it
would be reasonable to expect that m ore Indians, who readily
acquire industrial skill if given the chance to do so, would be
welcomed. If there w ere anything in the b elief that race hatred
goes by numbers it would be far less in the Transvaal w here there
are 25 W hites to every Indian than in Natal w here their numbers
A F R I C A
S O U T H
are approxim ately equal. The evidence o f Miss H o rrell’ s book,
“ The Group Areas A c t” , is that anti-Indian feeling is even greater
in the Transvaal than in Natal. It is true that Indian families often
look large in this contraceptive age, but fears on the score o f
birthrate might be calmed by the fact that the Indian birthrate
has been falling steadily since 19 47 and now closely approxi
mates that o f the W hites, who have the advantage o f being able
to add to their numbers by im migration. In any case Indians are
less than 3 % o f the population.
3. Indians practise polygamy.
The number o f Muslims who, although perm itted by their
law the doubtful privilege of having m ore than one w ife, actually
do so, is insignificantly small.
4. Indians are strange people who eat odd food and worship strange
This is true enough but presumably Indians are no more strange
to us than we are to them. It should be recognised, how ever,
that in matters o f food, dress, games, habits, South Africanjndians
increasingly adopt “ W estern ” or W hite patterns, the strange
ness being m ore and m ore confined to skin colour.
5. Indians are dishonest traders. They undercut, overcharge, evade
price and wage regulations.
There is probably some substance in this w idely held belief.
Business honesty is a wayward thing. A practice condemned by
one group may be applauded by another.
charging in a com petitive market would soon put the trader out
o f business. The same laws as to wage and price regulations
apply to W hite and non-W hite.
6. Indians in South Africa cause trouble by running to India with
This is a recent complaint arising from the appeal made to
India in respect o f the “ Pegging” A ct o f 1943 and the subsequent
action by India in severing trade and diplomatic relations with
the Union and invoking the United Nations. Certainly this made
a bad situation worse but it should be rem em bered that South
African Indians did not appeal to India until all appeals to the
South African government had failed.
These are, 1 believe, the objections to Indians commonly
heard in Natal. Obviously they are not reasons for hatred but
excuses for it. By Professor A lip ort’ s and St. Thomas Aquinas’ s
N A T A L
M E N A C E
definitions Natal is deeply convicted of race prejudice.
Had the English o f Natal only been more English in spirit, had
they kept their word to the early Indian immigrants and given
them the citizenship that they w ere promised, things might have
been very different. Natal might have developed as a truly m ulti
racial community in w hich Africans as they emerged into W estern
ways would have found a place and it might have been here that
the experim ent in inter-racial partnership could have been made
that the great Federation to the North is now making.
The present position cannot long continue. South Africans of
Indian descent w ill not for ever (and perhaps not for long) be
kept in subordination, denied many professional and skilled
occupations, disfranchised, and threatened w ith eviction from
their homes and the loss of their property in the land o f their
birth. N or w ill the Africans who increasingly outgrow tribal
wavs be kept indefinitely from the W estern w orld which they
have qualified to enter.
Elsewhere the English have met situations similar to this in
time, if onlv just in time. If South Africans o f Dutch origin learn
nothing from Indonesia, o f French origin from Algeria, cannot
those of English origin read the lessons o f India, Burma, Ghana?
It is hard to see whence hope might com e. Facts have not
saved us. Facts regarding South A frica’ s Indians are known,
their numbers, birthrate, crim e rate; but prejudice persists.
A Christian revival, a great stirring o f the mind and spirit,
could save South Africa overnight and there should be hope o f
this, for South Africa is, at least nominally, an exceptionally
Christian country. But there is no sign o f such a stirring of faith.
Instead there is fear and hatred and preoccupation w ith cricket.
If South Africa found itself unable to hold a place in inter
national cricket with a team drawn from only one, the W hite,
section o f the people would not the cause o f cricket rise above
race prejudice and a truly South African team come into being?
Then the way would be open for an Indian, a modern counter
part of the “ R an ji” who was the hero o f every English cricket
enthusiast in my boyhood, to go in to bat when all seemed lost
and with skill and courage restore hope to his side. Then perhaps
hatred of Indians, even in Natal, might suddenly depart.
A silly and a childish fancy? Yes, indeed, but a harmless one;
and neither so silly nor so childish as South A frica’ s hatred o f
its Indian citizens which, so far from being harmless, may well
spell its doom.
THE EISELEN SCHEME
FL O R A SN ITCH ER
Convener f o r African Affairs , National Council o f Women,
I n accordance w ith the Governm ent’ s policy o f apartheid along'
racial lines, even w ithin the non-white groups, the Secretary for
Native Affairs, D r. W . W . Eiselen, announced in January 19 55
that it was the Governm ent’ s policy ultimately to rem ove all
Africans from the W estern Province. As defined by D r. Eiselen,
the W estern Province is the area south o f the Orange R iver and
w est o f a line stretching from the magisterial district o f Gordonia
(Upington) to that o f Knysna, in all about a quarter of the Cape
Province, the largest province o f the Union.
It was necessary, D r. Eiselen said, to remove all the Natives
from this vast section o f the Union because “ the W estern
Province was the natural home o f the Coloured people, and they
had the right to be protected against the competition o f Natives
in the labour m arket” .
A fter alleging that “ miscegenation took place (between C ol
oured people and N atives)” and that “ Coloured wom en p re
ferred to live w ith Natives because they offered them better
E I S E L E N
S C H E M E
security” , D r. Eiselen stated that “ the fact that Natives and
Coloureds lived and w orked together . . . . was leading to the
disappearance o f social and cultural differences between the two
He then proceeded to enlarge on the threat to the Coloured
people in the econom ic field. “ Physically the Native had the
advantage over the Coloured man and was rapidly monopolizing
the physical labour field. The number o f Natives in the W estern
Province had increased from 30,000 in 19 2 1 to 17 8 ,0 0 0 in 195-5-.
Industrial development in the area was the main cause o f this
influx . . . Employers preferred Natives as labourers because
they w ere physically stronger, less addicted to strong drink, and
had not yet become ‘ city w ise’ ” .
In order to protect the Coloured people socially, culturally
and economically, it was therefore necessary to rem ove the
Natives and “ restore the traditional demographic order in the
Western Province” .
Immediately that D r. Eiselen had announced his scheme, the
fundamental ideology o f w hich is enumerated above, there was
a storm o f criticism .
It emanated from many sources—the
Chambers o f Com m erce and Industry, Members o f Parliament
of all the opposition parties, Farm ers’ and various other
Employers’ Associations, amongst others. They all objected to
the scheme on econom ic grounds, pointing out, quite rightly,
that it would be practically impossible to force the Coloured
man down the economic scale from his position o f skilled or
semi-skilled w orker to that o f unskilled labourer, and that the
Western Province faced disaster to its economy if there was anv
check in the flow o f African labour. D r. Eiselen had envisaged
these objections, how ever, for he had originally announced
“ Industrial development in the area was the main cause o f the
enormous influx o f Natives, and industrial expansion, which
needed additional m anpower, should therefore be carefully con
This did nothing to allay the anxiety o f the big employers o f
labour, as can w ell be imagined, even though the executive
committee o f the S. A. Bureau of Racial Affairs, an organisation
largely responsible for the ideological background to Nationalist
policy, assured them, in a statement supporting the Eiselen
scheme, that “ economic development does not require as o f
necessity more Native labourers. Labour can also be W hite or
Coloured, and better quality o f labour and better utilization
A F R I C A
S O U T H
thereof can be equivalent to m ore labour . . . Mechanization,
scientific management, white im migration, etc., could com pen
sate them for the loss o f Native labour” .
Representations w ere made by the employers to D r. V erw oerd,
the Minister o f Native Affairs. He replied, in a letter to the
Cape Chamber o f Industries: ‘ ‘Your Chamber w ill no doubt agree
that, provided the labour requirem ents o f employers can be m et,
it is in the interests o f everyone if the socio-economic conditions
in the W estern Province are not allowed to becom e too in
volved . . . There w ill be differentiation between m arried and
single m igratory labour, and an adequate supply o f the latter,
until such time as other (Coloured) labour is available, w ill not
be endangered.” It would seem that this reassurance has sufficed
to dispel any doubts harboured about the merits o f the Eiselen
scheme by organised employers in industry, com merce and
agriculture. At any rate, they have maintained a discreet silence
concerning the scheme ever since.
There w ere few protests made against the scheme on moral,
social or ethical grounds. These came from the Cape Town
Branch of the National Council o f W om en, who are concerned
about the threat to family life and the human suffering which will
inevitably be caused when the scheme is put into operation;
various Protestant churches, particularly the Anglican Church,
w hich condemned the whole system o f m igratory labour; and
African organizations such as the African National Congress,
which condemned particularly the Governm ent’ s attempt to
“ divide and rule” by forcibly separating Coloureds and Africans.
But except for a few letters to the Press from individuals, every
one else kept silent.
Perhaps this was because both D r. V erw oerd and D r. Eiselen
declared that the policy was “ a long-term measure not to be
implemented overnight . . . ” Many people think, and repeatedly
say, that this long-term measure can never be put into effect.
It can be shown, how ever, that this iniquitous scheme is not a
policy for the far-distant future. It is being implemented here
and now . In fact, the prelim inary stages have already been put
into effect. It is being done exactly as Dr. Eiselen outlined,
being executed step by step in the follow ing m anner:—
T h e rem oval o f “ foreign natives” —that contradictory
term which in Nationalist terminology means any African born
beyond the borders o f the Union, in Rhodesia, Nyasaland, etc.,
but not in the Protectorates. Once such a man loses his job in
E I S E L E N
S C H E M E
the Union, no m atter if it be through absolutely no fault o f his
own, no matter if he has been here for twenty years or m ore, or
has a w ife and family here, no m atter i f he has no ties at all with
his homeland, he is not allowed to either seek w o rk or take a
new job. He has to leave the Union, im m ediately, and at his
own expense. Employers have to collect money from “ foreign
natives” in their service to make sure that sufficient is available
to pay the fare over the border when such Africans leave their
employment. This policy is being applied all over the Union,
but is administered w ith especial strictness in the W estern
Province, on Governmental orders.
T he freezin g o f the present p o sitio n o f N ative
fam ilies. This is being done in the follow ing manner. Firstly,
in D ecem ber, 19 54 , local authorities in the W estern Cape
began to register African wom en for perm its (passes) under
Section 10 o f the Urban Areas A ct. This was not a haphazard
move, occasioned by some official's whim . It was the first step
in the compilation o f a detailed register o f all African women
living in the W estern Province.
A ll African women living
there now have to carry a perm it to remain in the area. If they
do not do so, or remain here after being refused a perm it, they
are guilty o f a criminal offence and are liable to arrest, a term
of imprisonment, and/or a fine, and are then escorted out o f the
area. Many hundreds have already been found guilty, and sent
back to their homes or last place o f residence, w hether or not
they are forced to abandon their husbands and children as a
Secondly, if a woman who has lived in the W estern Province
tor many years wishes to visit another part o f the country and
then return, she is not permitted to do so unless she is employed
by someone who guarantees to re-em ploy her on her return.
So African housewives and mothers who do not w ork,7 but stay
at home to care for their fam ilies, can never leave the area even
for a short w hile, for fear that they w ill not be re-admitted. In
terms o f a recent Supreme Court judgment (Regina v. Annie
Silinga), a woman has to be “ physically present” for at least 15
years in an area in order to qualify for exem ption from the
provisions of this section of the Urban Areas Act. If at anv time
she leaves—even for a few days—she loses the exem ption.
Thirdly, “ influx control” is very strictly enforced in the
Western Province. This means that African wom en cannot enter
the “ proclaimed area o f the Cape” from other parts of the
Collection Number: A3299
Hilda and Rusty BERNSTEIN Papers, 1931-2006
Historical Papers Research Archive
Collection Funder: Bernstein family
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