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

Bullet.In.The.Back Day

Bullet.In.The.Back Day

Hart is supporting, and taking a full part in the activities planned by the National Anti-Apartheid Co-ordinating Committee, along with all the other anti-apartheid bodies. Planned to focus the activities of the Day is a national linkup between 7pm and 7.30pm where John Gaetsewe of the non-racial South African Congress of Trade Unions will speak to audiences all over the country.

Leaflets have been produced for distribution to parents, workers and students in the period leading up to Sharpeville Day.

The first leaflet contrasts the standard of living between the black and white South African; monthly incomes, infant mortality', hospital and teaching staff ratio per head of population.

The second leaflet describes the conditions of work for the black South African worker, mentioning that African trade unions are prohibited, that it is illegal for black workers to strike, that blacks have no vote and no political parties except those that operate underground.

Skilled jobs are reserved for whites under the Industrial Conciliation Act. All Africans must carry a pass with them 24 hours a day, if they don't they can be arrested instantly. Black employees can be failed if they don't turn up for work and if they are sacked, they have to return to the reservations where there is no work.

The leaflet directed at students describes generally the use of terror that is required to perpetuate apartheid. Vorster was in jail during World War II — because of his Nazi affiliations — now his politics are officially propagated. Laws against freedom of movement for blacks and for those whites who speak out against apartheid result in approximately one million prosecutions a year and in other actions that deprive people of their civil rights.

The planned Sharpeville Day activities include picketing those New Zealand companies whose activities are helping to promote and strengthen apartheid: South British Insurance, South African Airways, Caltex, New Zealand Insurance, General Motors, IBM, Rothmans, New Zealand Motor Corporation, to name but a few. Shops selling South African goods (wines and canned fruits etc.) will also be picketed.

New Zealand Insurance, for example, gets 5% of its total premium income from South Africa and Rhodesia, while South British Insurance gets 7% from these countries.

All these companies uphold and enforce apartheid. While these companies continue to invest their money in South Africa and Rhodesia, New Zealand money will be helping to strengthen apartheid and New Zealanders will continue to profit from the oppression and exploitation of the African people.

March 21st 1960, was the day sel aside by Africans to protest the pass laws that stringently control the movement of black people within South Africa. The pass is a document of 96 pages containing personal statistics and history. This must be carried at all times by each 'native male or female above the age of 16'. It must be produced on demand for inspection by the police at any hour and in any place.

The pass laws have been used as a means of harrassment by South African authorities. Incessant pass raids have become a permanent feature of the state. Brutality is a normal occurrence in raids in which police invade, separate families and terrorize whole communities.

The increase of pass raids and other indignities brought on the call initialed by African political leaders, for a mass peaceful protest on March 21st 1960. Over 20,000 protestors gathered at Sharpeville and Langa Capetown, Despite strong feelings of indignation, they were assembled in a spirit of complete non-violence. Mangalise Robert Sobukwe, one of the protest leaders said, 'We are willing to die for our freedom, but we are not yet ready to kill for it'. The demonstrators at Sharpeville told police that they had left their passes at [unclear: borne] nd that they would no longer carry them. The plan was to overflow all the jails and engulf the whole country.

The police, however, reacted to such numbers with panic. Without warning, squads appeared from inside the police station, armed with rifles and automatic weapons and opened fire on the crowd. The front ranks of demonstrators were cut down in a slaughter that killed 69 people immediately and injured 257, most of them seriously. The Rand Daily Mail. South Africa's leading English language newspaper, reported '. . .volley after volley of 303 bullets and stengun bursts lore into the crowd ... as scores of people fell before the hail of bullets, Bodies lay in grotesque positions on the pavement. Then came the ambulances, 11 of them. Two truckloads of bodies were taken to the mortuary.

The South African Government unleashed a wave of terror following the massacre, In a single sweep, 21,000 activists and opponents of apartheid were' arrested on contrived charges and detained without trial. Hundreds fled ahead of the net across every border northward. A generation of exiles came into being. The now numbers over 1,000.