Apartheid Museum

Roots of Compromise

A key turning point in recent South African history took place from 1987-90. By this time important overtures to peace had already been made.

In 1987 a powerful non-government delegation held talks with the ANC in Dakar. In 1988 Nelson Mandela, who was still in prison, issued an invitation to the government to negotiate an end to apartheid. By early 1989 the non-racial mass democratic movement had swelled and returned to the streets. Then in August 1989 F W de Klerk replaced the hardline P W Botha as president. Within months he had decided the only way forward was to release Nelson Mandela and to unban the ANC, PAC, SACP and other political organisations.

Quick Facts

  • In 1988, the United Democratic Front was restricted from performing certain activities and was effectively banned.
  • Dr David Webster, a social anthropologist and leading anti-apartheid activist, was shot dead outside his home.
  • In 1989, five of the Rivonia trailists who had been sentenced to life imprisonment were released.
  • The repeal of the Group Areas Act, Population Registration Act and the Land Act followed in 1991.
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