The Banning of South African Newspapers

On 23 December 1980 four black South African newspapers were banned.

The four black newspapers, the Post Transvaal, Saturday Post, Sunday Post and the Sowetan, were banned on a technicality on the same day that the eight week strike of black journalists ended.

These newspapers were considered to be a threat to the apartheid government as these newspapers discussed the atrocities of the apartheid regime and started reflecting their opinions against apartheid and its policies. This resulted in the newspapers becoming increasingly popular amongst the black South Africans, as it reflected the lives and views of black people under the hardships of apartheid.

Due to the newspapers’ impact on the lives of various anti-apartheid groups, Justice Coetzee, who presided at the Rand Supreme Court refused to lift the banning order on the four newspapers on 29 December 1980. In addition to that, the security police served the president and vice-president of the Black journalists’ trade union Media Workers of South Africa with three-year banning orders. A storm of protest erupted, even from the strongly pro-government Afrikaans press.

The banning of these newspapers and magazines was just one example of how the media had to cope with increasing numbers of laws affecting press freedom.

Interested in the impact of black-owned newspapers during the apartheid era? Read:

Imvo Zabantsundu: A brief history