Detention shows four of the special provisions of the Internal Security Act, 1982. The writing was done by removing the black paint from the surface just as Blacks were removed from South African society by these draconian laws. While the laws applied to all population groups they ultimately impacted the black majority more than any other group.


22.5 x 17.5"  Mixed Media                                                   (1999)


In South Africa there were a myriad of laws that provided for detention of persons under all kinds of circumstances and gave widespread powers to the police.


These included:

Detention for Interrogation

bulletGeneral Laws Amendment Act, 1963
bulletTerrorism Act, 1967
bulletInternal Security Act, 1982

Preventative Detention

bulletInternal Security Act, 1950
bulletInternal Security Act, 1982

Short-Term Detention

bulletGeneral Law Amendment Act, 1966
bulletInternal Security Act, 1982

Detention of State Witnesses

bulletSuppression of Communism Act, 1950
bulletCriminal Procedures Act, 1965
bulletInternal Security Act, 1982

State of Emergency Detention

bulletPublic Safety Act, 1953
bulletProclamation R121, 1985



The 90-Day Detention Law was introduced in May 1963. Persons could be arrested and detained without access to an attorney or notification to family members for up to 90 days without formal charges. In reality many were released, only to be re-detained for an additional 90-day period. This draconian law was replaced on Jan. 10, 1965 with the 180-Day Detention Law. Helen Suzman, the only woman and only Progressive Party member of Parliament, was the only legislator who voted against the amendment.


Volume II of the TRC's Final Report indicates that between 1960-1990 there were a total of 80,000 detentions-without-trial of which 10,000 were women and 15,000 children under the age of 18. In the late 1970's, South Africa had one of the highest prison populations in the world, with an average daily prison population of 100,000.* The wide ranging powers of the police, including an extensive indemnity provision and lack of censure for excesses, reinforced the police's understanding that they enjoyed impunity for extensive abuses committed in the interests of state security.


* Population in South Africa in 1980's was 30 million.