South African Police, 1917-1922

Scope and Content

Photocopies of papers of the South African Police on native meetings and affairs, 1917-1922: comprising file of reports of meetings of International Socialist League, the Bantu Womens' National League, the Transvaal Native National Congress and Industrial Workers of Africa, 1917-1918; file of correspondence on meetings of Africans organised by the International Socialist League, and on Native unrest and opposition to the Native Land Act Bill, 1917-1922; file of miscellaneous papers, including report of Inquiry into ill-treatment of natives by Police officers in Johannesburg, 1919 and inquest report on 11 Africans killed during a riot at Vrededorp, Feb 1920; file of papers on strike at the Meyer and Charlton mine, 1917; file of press cuttings relating to the International Socialist League, 1917-1920.

Administrative / Biographical History

The International Socialist League was founded in 1915, in opposition to World War One and the racist and conservative policies of the all-white South African Labour Party and the craft unions supporting it. It was initially rooted amongst white labour militants, but from the start it attracted black workers. The League argued in its weekly paper, the International , for a "new movement" to found One Big Union that would overcome the "bounds of Craft and race and sex," "recognise no bounds of craft, no exclusions of colour," and destroy capitalism through a "lockout of the capitalist class." From 1917 onwards, the International Socialist League began to organise amongst black and coloured workers. In March 1917, it founded an Indian Workers Industrial Union in Durban; in 1918, it founded a Clothing Workers Industrial Union (later spreading to Johannesburg) and horse drivers' union in the diamond mining town of Kimberly; in Cape Town, a sister organisation, the Industrial Socialist League, founded the Sweet and Jam Workers Industrial Union that same year. The International Workers of Africa was founded in 1917, the new general union's demands were simple, summed up in its slogan- "Sifuna Zonke!" ("We want everything!"). It was the first trade union for African workers ever formed in South Africa.


Papers divided into 5 series, as described above.

Access Information

Open although advance notice should be given. Access to individual items may be restricted under the Data Protection Act or the Freedom of Information Act.

Acquisition Information

The source of acquisition by ICS is not known.

Other Finding Aids


Archivist's Note

Compiled by Alan Kucia as part of the RSLP AIM25 Project.

Conditions Governing Use

A photocopying service is available, at the discretion of the Library staff. Copies are supplied solely for research or private study. Requests to publish, or to quote from original material should be submitted to the Information Resources Manager. The papers are presumed to be South African Government copyright.

Related Material

The ICS holds a large number of collections relating to South African politics, including African National Congress (ICS 1), Mary Benson (ICS 6), Ruth First (ICS 117), Marion Friedmann (ICS 20), Ruth Hayman (ICS 30) Baruch Hirson (ICS 32), Mandela Trials papers (ICS 52), Josie Palmer (ICS 57), Edward Roux (ICS 67), South African Institute of Race Relations (ICS 95), University of Cape Town (ICS 81-82), University of Transkei (ICS 19).

Location of Originals

Presumed to be held in the South African National Archives.