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Friday, 20 March 1987
Page: 1268


Mr MILTON(4.09) —Tomorrow, Saturday 21 March, is the anniversary of the Sharpeville massacre. In 1960 thousands of people who were protesting against the pass law system in South Africa were fired upon by the police. Sixty-nine Africans were killed and 180 were wounded. Among them were women and children. Most of the dead were shot in the back. Since 1916 over 17,745,000 Africans have been arrested or prosecuted under the battery of pass laws and influx control regulations in South Africa. The pass laws have been the main instrument used by the South African Government to police the African population and direct it into places dictated by the whites. It is ironic that the Government has used the pass laws for two almost contradictory needs-firstly, to gain political security by controlling Africans in, or excluding them from, white areas, and secondly, to ensure a supply of cheap labour within those same areas. This apparent contradiction has led to many twists and turns in the complex legislation necessary to balance the white needs for security and labour.

Pass laws are at the centre of the legal control system, which includes poll taxes, trespass laws, housing control and citizenship control. Increasing administrative controls are being used, thus effectively bypassing the courts which may have exercised some leniency in the operation of the laws. The network of influx control has caused a widening poverty gap between the urban and rural areas, with poverty and unemployment being exported into the Bantustans which are already grossly overcrowded and poverty stricken. People living in the so-called Bantustan homelands are then forced to look for work in the central economic areas in order to survive which, in turn, leads to new influx control measures. In the words of one black worker:

When you are out of a job, you realise that the boss and the government have the power to condemn you to death. If they send you back home (and back home now there's a drought) and you realise you can't get any new job, it's a death sentence. The countryside is pushing you into the cities to survive; the cities are pushing you into the countryside to die.

For those honourable members who are interested in the inhumane and savagely repressive effects of the pass laws I recommend a paper entitled `The Imposition of Pass Laws on the African Population in South Africa 1916-1984' by Professor Michael Savage of the University of Capetown, from which I have gathered some of the information that I have given the House in this speech. Of course, it is now being argued that the South African Government is initiating reforms. It is not possible to reform apartheid, which is a system which rejects all the basic principles of freedoms and justice which govern the relationship between human beings. Archbishop Tutu of Capetown said during his recent visit to Australia:

Apartheid is a vicious, cruel, immoral, unchristian monster, a Frankenstein. You don't reform a Frankenstein, you destroy it. We want apartheid dismantled.

The South African Government has claimed to have abolished the pass laws which, as I have already indicated, were used by the police as a weapon of oppression because, for a black South African, to be without a pass constituted an offence. The so-called abolition of the pass laws does not affect the black people who live in the Bantustans. In consequence, at least nine million blacks will be treated as aliens in their country of birth. The plain fact is that while the Group Areas Act, which provides for racially segregated residential and business areas, continues to exist the system of apartheid will not be seen to have been dismantled. The contravention of this Act is punishable by law. This Act has caused Archbishop Tutu, on his recent visit to La Trobe University, to state:

The fundamental policy of our government has been to denationalise black South Africans, to deprive them of their South African citizenship, turning them into aliens in the land of their birth, giving them the spurious citizenship of Bantustan `Homelands', whose independence is recognised only by South Africa and her satellites.

Meanwhile, the violence against black people in South Africa continues. In a statement to the South African Parliament earlier this month, Mr Adriaan Vlok, the Law and Order Minister, admitted that 83 people died in police custody. Right wing whites have also been carrying out their own reign of terror against the black people in a series of violent attacks which frequently result in death for innocent black bystanders. In many cases the police have failed to act promptly or effectively when complaints have been laid.

The fiftieth annual survey of the South African Institute of Race Relations paints a grim picture of a nation isolated and a society deeply divided. The survey for 1985 contains a significant section devoted to security force action. Let me give a sample: 763 adults and juveniles were killed by the security forces in both civil and political disturbances, 16 policemen were killed in political violence, 2,571 civilians were injured in security force actions and 7,966 people were detained under emergency powers.


Madam SPEAKER —Order! The honourable member's time has expired.