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South Africa – ANC violence

Apartheid South Africa denied human rights and civil liberties to blacks, and they could not vote, so a case could be made for the use of some force against the state.

But real life is never as neat as theory. After Mandela turned the ANC to violence in 1961, the ANC committed many crimes and killed many innocents. Mandela is rightly praised for being a rare revolutionary who set up a democracy, but the canonisation of Mandela means that ANC violence cannot be discussed.

There is a lot to admire about Mandela. But it is important to remember that Mandela and the ANC were not peaceful. And some of their actions were basically terrorism.


The ANC bombing campaign, 1988 video.
Bombing civilian targets with “warnings” is still a war crime.
Mandela is more like Gerry Adams than like Gandhi.

ANC violence in 1961-63

Why was Mandela jailed? Mandela was oppressed for the colour of his skin, but he was not jailed for the colour of his skin. He was jailed for the 1961-63 ANC campaign of violence that he started, and that killed a child when the ANC fire-bombed her home.

  • The ANC was founded in 1912 and was non-violent for nearly 50 years.
  • It was Mandela who turned it onto the path of violence.
  • Mandela turned the ANC to violence in 1961, founding its armed wing MK to carry out attacks.
  • Trial documents of the Rivonia trial (the Mandela trial) in 1963-64.
  • Annexure B is a list of acts of violence or sabotage committed in South Africa between December 1961 and August 1963. The list includes:
    • 16 Dec 1961. Bombing of “Municipal Bantu Control Office”, Dube, Johannesburg. The bomb went off prematurely, killing one of the bombers and injuring the other bomber.
    • 15 Dec 1962. ANC kills a black child by fire-bombing her home.
    • 18 Jan 1963. Bombing of office of “Die Nataller” newspaper, Durban. One white man injured.

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