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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 36, Number 3. 14th March 1973

Vorster Bans Student Leaders

page 4

Vorster Bans Student Leaders

On February 28th the South African Government smashed the leadership of the white National Union of South African Students by banning eight of its prominent members. Three days later the entire leadership of the black South African Student Organisation, including two leaders of the Black Peoples Convention, were also banned.

All were banned for five years under the terms of the notorious Suppression of Communism Act. They are restricted to magisterial districts and may not communicate with each other or other banned persons. They may not enter or teach at an educational institution. They also may not attend gatherings, enter factories or courts, or prepare or take part in anything intended for publication. They may not be quoted. The eight SASO members banned will also be under 12 hour house arrest.

Suppression of Communication Act

First Page of the banning order served on Mrs Sheila Lapinsky, Secretary-General of NUSAS

The South African Government's shock announcement that it was banning the eight NUSAS members came after the Prime Minister, Mr Vorster, had announced that he was tabling the interim report of a commission of inquiry into the affairs of NUSAS. The commission was set up last February and has investigated the Christian Institute, the Institute of Race Relations and the University Christian Movement as well as NUSAS.

The banning caused an uproar in the English language press, even in the more conservative newspapers, and among students. The Opposition United Party, which provides merely token resistance to the Government at any time, has come in for a great deal of criticism because its members on the Commission of Inquiry fully supported the phoney 'evidence' the Government used as an excuse to ban the student leaders. The worthlessness of this evidence becomes apparent when it is remembered that the Government was not prepared to risk charging the students in the courts. As the "Rand Daily Mail" put it in an editorial:

"In all the paraphernalia of our security legislation, the most brutal of its kind in the Western democratic world, there is apparently no weapon for the Government to use which would pass muster in the courts.

"So it resorts instead to arbitrary banning under the Suppression of Communism Act, for which no evidence need be supplied and no charge adduced".

The banning orders are cruel personal blows against the sixteen student leaders. Paula Ensor, for example, is the youngest NUSAS member banned. She will now be denied contact with her closest friends (all of whom have also been banned), and the opportunity to study for a Master's degree in economics. She will have absolutely no income at all because under the terms of her ban she is forbidden to hold a post in NUSAS. Consequently she receives no income from that organisation. Miss Ensor lives with four other students in Cape Town. Now she is forbidden to have any contact for five years with Paul Pretorius, President of NUSAS, who was also banned and who lives in the same house.

Politically, the bannings are yet another sign of the growing intolerance of the Vorster regime. Its attacks on English students, nationally represented by NUSAS, show that it cannot tolerate criticism, however moderate, even among the white population. Its smashing of SASO shows very clearly the sham nature of the South African Government's proclaimed policy of "separate development". SASO had very little contact with white organisations and spent most of its time developing black literacy programmes, attempting to promote the growth of black consciousness. But it was smashed along with NUSAS because it threatened the very basis of apartheid: the complete subservience of blacks to whites.



Paul Pretorius



Paula Ensor



Strini Moodley