The Suppression of Communism Act was passed on June 26th, 1950. It came into effect on July 17th, 1950.
The act banned the Communist Party of South Africa and prohibited any party, group, or individual to the beliefs of Communism. The Act gave the government the power to ban publications, issuing, or reporting that encouraged communism.
In addition to banning the publications of communism, the government had the ability to ban people from practicing as lawyers, holding office or attending meetings. If this were to happen, the Minister of Justice deemed him to be a Communist.
Between 1948 and 1991, the government banned over 1,600 men and women. These people encountered harsh restrictions on their movement or campaign and activities dealing with politics intending to silence their objections to the government’s policies.
The Act defined communism as any plan that aimed “at bringing about any political, industrial, social, or economic change within the Union by the promotion of disturbance or disorder.” It stated that one of the aims of Communism was to spur conflict between the races.
The Suppression of Communism Act took down liberation organizations such as the ANC and Pan Africanist Congress of Azania. Organizations were forced to go underground and hold meetings to continue their protests. Freedom fighters such as Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, and Govan Mbeki were sentenced to prison for life partly because of this Act.
Much of the Act was repealed in 1982 by the Internal Security and Intimidation Amendment Act 138 of 1991. In 1992, the rest of the Act was abolished.
In my opinion, this Act was a cover up for the government’s fears. Because the government didn’t want to be overthrown, they enacted this Act to prevent any conflicts between blacks and whites. Therefore, blacks didn’t have the same opportunities to protest and object. The government tried to stop activists and freedom fighters, such as Nelson Mandela, to get rights for blacks.
I think that the Act made the whites feel even more superior when it was enacted. However, because blacks have freedom now, I think that the Suppression of Communism Act does not have a lingering effect on South Africa today. Although it was a negative Act and was meant to ban all political organizations that disturbed the order of the government, blacks stood their ground and protested. This likely prompted the blacks to keep trying and fighting for their rights as people and as individuals.