Here are some of the events that took place on this day, within the South African history.
1991-18 political prisoners are released from Bophuthatswana
On 17 October 1991, 18 political prisoners were released from Bophuthatswana (now known as North West Province). Initially Bophuthatswana government officials announced that they were releasing about 20 political prisoners but it was later stated that political prisoners on hunger strike would not be set free.
Among those on hunger strike was Johannes Simelane who was on hunger strike for 61 days, and was released two days later. Johannes ‘Bushy’ Molefe was allegedly assaulted by a prison warder after he was found wearing a T-shirt calling for the release of Johannes Simelane.
On 15 October 1991, Rabusang Mannana, a political prisoner, died of an unknown disease after he was allegedly refused proper medical care by prison officials. Their release came after the African National Congress (ANC) restated that amongst its fundamental preconditions for negotiation with the South African government was the unconditional release of political prisoners.
1983–SADF commandos bombs the ANC office in Maputo
The South African National Defence Force (SADF) commandos bombed the African National Congress (ANC) office in Maputo, Mozambique and injured 5 people. Captain Wynand Petrus du Toit was caught later and admitted his role in the raid. This was one of many cross border raids by the SADF in the 1980s. Some of the cross border raids include Matola, Botswana and the bombing of two houses in Manzini. The attacks in Manzini claimed the lives of uMkhonto weSizwe member Patrick Makau and seven-year-old Patrick Nkosi, the son of an active ANC member, Mr Mawick Nkosi.
1961-ANC leader, Walter Sisulu is arrested for not being in possession of a reference book.
African National Congress (ANC) leader, Walter Sisulu was arrested on a charge that he did not own a reference book. Subsequently Sisuslu was confined to his house for 5 years. Before his banishment in June 1961 Sisulu, Joe Slovo, Nelson Mandela and Govan Mbeki secretly met and discussed the formation of uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) the ANC’s armed wing. This group constituted the MK’s high command. He served as political commissar of MK with his friend Mandela as its Commander in Chief. During his banishment in July 1963, Sisulu was arrested together with the High Command of the ANC at Lilliesleaf Farm in Rivonia.
1945–Graça Machel is born
Graca Machel political activist and champion of children’s rights, widow of Samora Machel and wife of former President Nelson Mandela, was born in Gaza, Mozambique. In her quest for peace and reconciliation in her country she became Chairperson of the National Organization of Children of Mozambique. The organization placed orphans in village homes while reinforcing the role of the family and community in the healing process.
Compiled By: REFILWE GAESWE