Ronnie Kasrils tour of London

This article by Mike Pentelow is reproduced by kind permission of Fitzrovia News, who published it in September 2012.

London's most secret address in the clandestine war against apartheid has been revealed by Ronnie Kasrils, who organised the smuggling of material into South Africa in the 1960s and 70s.

The address was 25 Newman Street, W1 (near the corner of a back alley, Newman Passage, which leads through to Rathbone Street) which he revisited on a guided walk around Goodge Street on July 7.

It was here that he trained anti-apartheid activists how to smuggle in leaflets in false bottomed suitcases, and make explosive devices to scatter them into the air in South Africa.

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Trial of the Pretoria six

In Pretoria Supreme Court on 20 June 1973 four South Africans and two white foreigners were sentenced to a total of seventy-seven years’ imprisonment for offences under the Terrorism Act. Theophilus Cholo (aged 24), Gardner Kitchener Sejaka (30), Justus Mpanza (34) and Petrus Aaron Mtembu (37) were each sentenced to fifteen years’ imprisonment; Alexandre Moumbaris (34), a naturalized Australian, to twelve years; and Sean Hosey (23), an Irish citizen, to
five years.

The indictment contained a total of nineteen charges, in each of which one or more of the accused were named. All, except Hosey, were alleged to have conspired with one another, with the ANC and with twenty-nine other named people to instigate violent revolution in South Africa. They were alleged to have secretly agreed to bring arms, ammunition and explosives into South Africa and to train people in South Africa in ‘warfare and subversion’.In count two Theophilus Cholo, Justus Mpanza, Petrus Mtembu and Gardner Sejaka were alleged to have had military and political training in African countries and in the Soviet Union between 1962 and June 1972.

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Liverpool and South Africa

On 24 July 2013, Liverpool City Council unanimously adopted this proposal:

Liverpool and South Africa
Council recognises the contribution of seamen, building workers, trade unionists, Christian Churches and other progressive forces from Liverpool in the fight against apartheid in South Africa.

In particular Council applauds the bravery of our citizens who risked life and liberty to work underground for the African National Congress in South Africa in the 1960s and 70s, as recorded in the recently published book “London Recruits”.

In recognition of their actions and our city’s active commitment to the fight against injustice, in whatever form, it asks the Cabinet Member for Culture and Tourism to bring forward proposals to erect a commemorative plaque at a suitable location in the city.”

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Sean Hosey

We found this moving poem in Voices magazine on-line: . It is by Sean Hosey's father John Hosey. In 1972, finding that his son (one of the London Recruits) had been arrested, he went out to South Africa to support him and wrote this poem after attending the trial. "Joe Boshoff" refers to the judge. "The Actor man" presumably refers to actor David Tomlinson, who also attended the trial.The accused became known as the "Pretoria Six", and John names them in this poem. Sean was sentenced to five years imprisonment, which he served in full. 

You smiled quietly as you mounted the steps
From the cells below. I couldn't hear As your lips moved, but I knew you said Hello dad. Your cheeks are pale The flesh is taut I will bring you some food tomorrow Some apples and pears and oranges too Am I staring too hard? Have they broken you With obscenity and cruelty Joe Boshoff, surrounded By a dozen Mein Kampfs A court of jackboots Make you tremble I will watch your hands To see if they shake But Wrath"

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To change the world is reason enough

"To change the world is reason enough" is the autobiography of Dr Ron Press (1929-2009). He was a scientist and a member of the ANC, its armed wing MK, and the SACP who lived most of his life in Bristol after going into exile in the 1950s.
His particular significance for us is that he played the most important role in designing the leaflet bombs and loudspeaker systems that many of us used on our secret missions to South Africa. . He also contributed to the setting up of secret communications networks that were operational in the late 1980s. He was a scientist and in this capacity he made a unique contribution to the titanic struggle against the apartheid regime.

ANC pays tribute to struggle stalwart Ronnie Press

5 November 2009

The African National Congress (ANC) mourns the death of struggle stalwart Ronnie Press, buried today (5 November 2009) in Bristol, England.

Press, who passed away on 28 October 2009, joined the Congress of Democrats in 1953, played an active role in the South African Congress of Trade Unions (SACTU), the African National Congress (ANC), Umkhonto we Sizwe (ANC military wing) and the South African Communist Party. He also served as Secretary of the Textile Workers' Industrial Union.

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This interesting report by the BBC, about the truck used for the "Secret Safari" arms smuggling operation, somehow manages to avoid mentioning that the drivers and tour guides were all white non-South Africans, mostly British people, acting in solidarity with the ANC.

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