“Gagged and trussed rather securely by the law”: The 1952 Defiance Campaign in Natal

Goolam Vahed


For almost half a century after the establishment of the Union of South Africa in 1910, Black South Africans responded to the segregationist policies of successive white minority governments principally through non-violent techniques of resistance, such as boycotts, civil disobedience, mass demonstrations, and strikes. The movement led by Mohandas K. Gandhi in 1913 and the 1946-48 campaign in Natal against the “Ghetto Act” are two prominent instances of non-violent mass civil disobedience prior to the National Party (NP) coming to power in 1948. The new government began almost instantly to implement its policy of apartheid which, while never static, entailed severe control of African movement in urban areas, the creation of reserves for Africans, white control of political institutions, and strict segregation of Indians and Coloureds.

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