Freedom of thought in South Africa: undoing Apartheid’s attempt at thought control

Conference paper


Jones, M. 2022. Freedom of thought in South Africa: undoing Apartheid’s attempt at thought control. The Right to Freedom of Thought: An Online Symposium. Online symposium 23 - 23 Nov 2022
TypeConference paper
TitleFreedom of thought in South Africa: undoing Apartheid’s attempt at thought control
AuthorsJones, M.
Abstract

On 19 October 1977, a day that has since become known as Black Wednesday, the Apartheid regime in South Africa banned three newspapers: the World, the Weekend World and the Voice. This marked the start of decades of repression, given legal force through legislation such as the Publications Act, 1987. Journalists were jailed without trial, writers, academics, dissidents of various stripes were banned, jailed, and forced into exile. The State in South Africa tightened control over movement, speech, and ultimately, through censorship combined with propaganda, thought itself. By the beginning of the 1990s, a culture of censorship, secrecy and intellectual repression seemed to be entrenched in South Africa. However, in 1996 this culture was broken decisively with the inclusion of the Bill of Rights in the fledgling South African democracy’s new Constitution. Not only does Clause 16 guarantee freedom of expression, Clause 15 specifically includes the right to freedom of belief and opinion. Black Wednesday became Media Freedom Day, celebrated annually. 26 years have now elapsed since the shining promise of these clauses were made law, 45 years since Black Wednesday. This paper explores how and to what extent South African law create and guarantee space for the ancient African traditions of the lekgotla or indaba, where everyone is encouraged to speak their minds.

KeywordsFreedom of Thought; Constitution of the Republic of South Africa
Sustainable Development Goals16 Peace, justice and strong institutions
Middlesex University ThemeCreativity, Culture & Enterprise
LanguageEnglish
ConferenceThe Right to Freedom of Thought: An Online Symposium
Publication process dates
AcceptedSep 2022
Completed23 Nov 2022
Deposited22 Mar 2024
Output statusPublished
Accepted author manuscript
File Access Level
Open
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