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The 1960 State of Emergency
The PAC was created in 1959 by 'Africanists' within the ANC who desired a more aggressive position against the state and disagreed with multi-racial cooperation. The PAC (Pan African Congress) expressed the increasingly popular, sometimes violent township resistance that developed in the late 1950s as opposition was frustrated by government legislation.

The PAC gained considerable support in Cape Town. The ANC had been weakened by the arrest of leaders during a party gathering in 1958, and suffered internal division over whether to support white Native Representatives in elections. Both the ANC and the PAC were intent on gathering support for a campaign of action against the pass laws, and the PAC also demanded a minimum wage. The PAC predicted national liberation by 1963.

During March 1960 ANC and PAC supporters were campaigning widely in the townships, and on the 18th March the PAC announced the beginning of their anti-pass campaign. The plan was for thousands of men to leave their passes at home and arrive at police stations for arrest, thereby quickly filling the country's jails and making influx control impossible.


Cape Town and Sharpeville in the Transvaal responded vigorously. Men from Nyanga presented themselves for arrest at Philippi police station and the women mocked those going to work as normal. Riots occurred in Langa, partly as a result of the news that 69 protestors had been killed by police during a Sharpeville pass demonstration.

People stayed away from work for several days, and the impact of this was felt on services and industrial production. Other activist groups such as the Black Sash, the Congress of Democrats and the Liberal Party helped by providing food to township residents.


In Cape Town, the PAC campaign succeeded, with a temporary suspension of pass laws across the country on the 24th March. However, only 6 days later the government declared a State of Emergency. Both the PAC and the ANC were banned and 1,500 people were arrested. That morning, in Langa, the police conducted violent attacks with the aim of breaking the strike.

Later in the day, 30,000 Africans from Langa and Nyanga marched to Caledon Square police station. The march broke up only when the police chief (Colonel Terreblanche) assured the PAC leader (Philip Kgosana) that he would be allowed to meet the Minister of Justice that day.

When Kgosana arrived at the appointment, he was arrested. In a matter of days, townships were cordoned off, food supplies cut off and resistance controlled with beatings and arrests. By April 11th, the strike was over, pass laws restored and the cordon that cut off townships lifted.


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