The SANROC story
Chris de Broglio & Dennis Brutus
In 1961 I was in my office at UAT French Airlines in Johannesburg and Dennis Brutus, a poet and president of the Non-Racial South African Sports Association, entered my office. I had been in touch with Dennis for some time about the Weightlifting Federation in Port Elizabeth of which he was President.
Dennis was then a Banned Person, which meant that he could not be seen with more than three persons, could not be employed by a school, could not be published and of course could not take part in any political activity. He told me that he had some documents to be printed. As we had a printing machine I told him I would have it done. This was prior to the International Olympic Committee Meeting that was to be held at Baden-Baden and those documents were in connection with that meeting.
We were then in continuous contact as he was planning to form SANROC (the South African Non-Racial Olympic Committee). We then had a meeting at the residence of Father Sigamoney with a couple of other members and planned for the Formation Meeting. Dennis planned this new organisation after he had had a meeting with the South African National Olympic Committee and had discussed about the inclusion of Black South Africans in the Olympic team, which had been refused by the White organisation. He then told the meeting that he would form SANROC to challenge their membership of the International Olympic Committee; He was told that he could go ahead and they laughed at his suggestion. They were not to laugh in 1970 when the IOC in Amsterdam expelled the South African Olympic Association.
SANROC was formed in October 1962 and my Assistant Accountant at UAT, Reg Hlongwane a weightlifter, was elected Secretary. He was then called in front of a judge and given a warning in terms of the Suppression of Communism Act. The fact that he was not a communist did not matter!
Dennis then left the country illegally by crossing the border into Moçambique. But the Portuguese Security Police arrested him and kept him under interrogation for a couple of days before handing him over to the South African Security Police. He realised that nobody would be aware of his detention and he would be a pawn in their hands; when they arrived in front of Vorster Square in Johannesburg he was asked to take his bag, and as he bent in the boot of the car to take it, he tried a bold escape. He tried to get on a bus and as the Police was giving chase the bus conductor pushed him off and the policeman shot him in the stomach at point blank range. As he lay on the pavement bleeding an ambulance arrived and was turned away as it was for Whites Only.
He was finally taken to a Black Hospital, where he refused treatment until an Official from the British Embassy was given access to him, as he had a British Passport from Rhodesia. Finally the British Consul saw him and he accepted treatment. When he appeared in Court he was sentenced to 18 months for leaving the country illegally. He served his sentence in Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was being held.
Why I left South Africa
I left South Africa in March 1964 after a lot of pressure from the Security police who often came to my office to interview me but each time my boss Serge Combard would call me on the interphone and tell me to leave, whilst he talked to them. In July 1963 I left South Africa for a short trip to Europe. Later that day the Security Police wanted to search my office, he told them they would have to have a letter from the Prime Minister or the Minister of Transport because we were an International Airline and The French Security Police could also search the offices of South African Airways in Paris. They told him that I would probably not come back. When they left he searched my office and found a new Passport in the name of Mannie Brown, Bank Drafts and books which he gave to my Lawyer Nat Bregman to keep until my return. The Swiss Bank drafts had been given to me by Julius First, the Treasurer of the Communist Party, to negotiate for South African Rand for the ANC and Communist Party. Soon after there was the escape of Harold Wolpe and Goldreich which had been planned by Mannie Brown and others. But Mannie had actually been waiting for them near the Police headquarters and was suspected by the police. Luckily I had the new passport which had been issued by the Great Britain Embassy and Mannie went by train to Durban and booked a holiday with Flame Lilly holidays to the Victoria Falls. He carried a golf bag and smoked cigars which he offered to the Passport Officers. The police never knew how Mannie had left South Africa. The South African Security also knew about my relations with Dennis Brutus, the President of the Non-Racial South African Sports Association.
When I arrived in Britain where I was working for UTA temporarily I contacted Mr Guirandou N’Dyaye, an Executive member of the International Judo Federation, who was the First Secretary at the Ivory Coast Embassy and was going to the Olympics at Tokyo as Executive of the Judo Federation, and asked him to distribute a SANROC document about Dennis Brutus having been shot by the South African police and calling for the expulsion of the South African Olympic Association.
I then went to work in Paris with Serge Combard, my former boss at UTA in South Africa. And we formed a French company with Anglo American, the Banque de Paris and Rothschild Bank as shareholders. But a year later our company started doing business with South Africa and I decided to resign my post, as it was in conflict with my ideas and go back to the UK with my wife and five children. I stayed for one year without a job until I bought a small hotel near Marble Arch, which became the headquarters of SANROC.
Creation of SANROC in London
I decided to form a SANROC committee in exile. When I told this to Mannie Brown, a member of the Communist Party of South Africa, at a dinner in Hampstead he told me that the London Apartheid Movement of Abdul Minty was representing SANROC and I would not have a chance.
I nevertheless decided to go on with the idea. I managed to get a message to Dennis who was out of Robben Island and asked him for his blessing to attend the Meeting of the International Olympic Committee in Rome. He gave me his OK. I contacted Canon Collins of the International Defence and Aid Fund for an air ticket to go to Rome; He agreed and told me to report to him on my return. I then received a call from his secretary who said that Abdul Minty had contacted Canon Collins to object to my going to Rome. I went to see Cannon Collins and explained that the Anti-Apartheid movement of Abdul Minty had represented SANROC in the past but I had been a Founder member of SANROC and would be installing SANROC in London. He told me to go ahead with my trip and contact him afterwards.
I had little information about the IOC meeting and went to the Foro Italico, the headquarters of the Italian Olympic Committee and met with the Secretary of the Italian Committee. He informed me that the IOC members were staying at the Excelsior hotel in Rome where the IOC Session would be held. I then went to the Excelsior and met with Jean-Claude Ganga and the Cuban Olympic member; Ganga asked me if I was part of the Chinese group of SANROC. I asked him why and the said Ibrahim Gora had been in Brazzaville from China and said he represented SANROC! I later met with Ibrahim, who had been a member of the SANROC Executive in Johannesburg.
We had a long discussion and agreed to work together and as he was a member of the Pan African Congress of SA he agreed that I should Form the SANROC Committee in London free from the ANC and the PAC as a pure sporting movement.
I then saw Avery Brundage, the IOC President in the Lobby of the hotel. I approached him and said I would like to have a talk with him as the representative of SANROC. He told me that he had no intention to talk to me. I thanked him and walked away. I swore I would never talk to him!
One evening I went to the bar across from the hotel for a beer and was recognised by Fred Labusgagne, a reporter for the SA Sunday Times. He asked me whether I was on Holiday, which I confirmed. The next day he saw me at the Excelsior and he realised I was working for SANROC, which I confirmed. The next Sunday Times had a banner headline about SANROC being in Rome, represented by Chris de Broglio. When Dennis saw the paper in Port Elizabeth he was thrilled and all the people he knew were congratulating him!
I went to report to Cannon Collins when I returned to London and he asked me if I needed some funds to continue. I said £ 50 would be useful. He offered me £ 200 for a start. I bought a second-hand Electric typewriter for £ 35, and that typewriter was responsible for all the damage against the South African racists.
South Africa and the Olympic Games
At this stage I will give the details of South Africa and the Olympics.
International sport is governed by international Federations for each code and by the International Olympic Committee- IOC- for the Olympic Games. The IOC is the highest authority in International sport but does not control the International Federations; the relationship is best described as interdependence.
The IOC is composed of individuals selected and nominated by the President and his executive. There are now 110 members. Some countries have more than one member and many countries have none. The IOC members represent the IOC in their respective countries, rather than the reverse.
It is obvious that there is a moral responsibility on IOC Executive members to ensure that the Olympic Charter is respected that fairplay is upheld and that all are guaranteed unhindered participation in the Olympic Games and International Sport.
This duty was not discharged by the IOC members towards Black South African sportsmen who have been discriminated against from the time South Africa became a member at the turn of the twentieth century. It appears that South Africa never gave the guarantees which are required of all new members. It appears that older members of the IOC have long persisted in covering up for Apartheid South African full knowledge of the extent of racism in South African sport.
From 1948 onwards the IOC played its full part in the merry-go-round with the White South Africans. Petitions and appeals which were sent by representative organisations of Black South Africans were referred back to the offending body in South Africa, the South African Olympic Committee. The IOC member, Mr Reginald Honey, was not instructed by the IOC to demand that these racist practices be abandoned. As life president of the South African Olympic Committee he was in fact responsible for the continuation of these racist practices.
The report of a commission which visited South Africa in 1967 shows that the matter was discussed in 1959, obviously through the pressure of the South African Sports Association. At this meeting the president of the IOC accepted without reserve the declarations of Mr Honey that there is no discrimination in South African sport in spite of detailed evidence to the contrary supplied in a memorandum by Dennis Brutus as secretary of SASA.
The 1963 RESOLUTION
The matter was next discussed at an executive meeting in 1962, through the intervention of the USSR member. Mr Brundage then declared that “no progress has been registered in South Africa in site of the promises which were made by our Johannesburg member”. It was decided to write to the S.A Olympic Committee to ask for explanations.
At the IOC Session in Moscow later that year the IOC threatened to suspend the South African Olympic Committee if “the policy of racial discrimination enforced by its government is not changed before the October 1963 session”.
At the Baden-Baden session in 1963 South Africa’s line of defence changed completely as they realised that denials of racialism were no longer being accepted. Mr Honey declared that “Apartheid was an internal matter which did not concern the IOC. Non White athletes can train among themselves and competitions with Whites can take place outside South Africa”.
The IOC decided that important progress had been made but much still had to be done and adopted the following resolution:
“The National Olympic Committee of South Africa must declare formally that it understands and submits to the Spirit of the Olympic Charter and particularly articles 1 and 24. It must also obtain from its government, before December 31, 1963, modification of its policy of racial discrimination in sport and competitions in its territory, failing which the South Africans will be forced to withdraw from the Olympic Games”.
The Tokyo Olympics were not specifically mentioned in the resolution but in 1966, after South Africa’s exclusion from Tokyo, the defenders of South Africa maintained that Baden-Baden resolution only applied to the Tokyo Olympics? This was vital for their plan to get South Africa reinstated, even though by 1967 South Africa had still not complied with the 1963 resolution.
At the 1966 Rome Session of the IOC, Mr Reg Alexander, the Kenya member who had visited South Africa, reported favourably on the situation inside South Africa
On the basis that much was being done for Non-White sport and that the South African sporting authorities were not responsible for any shortcomings. During his visit Mr Alexander had extended invitations to two African athletes to compete in Kenya, to the great embarrassment and anger of the Kenya sports authorities, who immediately cancelled the invitation of a racial team from South Africa, even tough it was a Black one.
At this Session the IOC decided to accept a South African proposal that a mixed committee would be set up, composed of three White officials and three Black officials under the Chairmanship of Mr Frank Braun. This committee was to be responsible for the selection of a multi-racial team for the Mexico Olympics. By accepting this proposal the IOC was in fact turning its back on its own decision at Baden-Baden that there must be “a modification of the policy of racial discrimination in sport and competitions in its territory”. The IOC also decided that a three-man Commission should visit South Africa to investigate the situation and report back in Grenoble in 1967.
Tennis Federation – Basle Meeting
My next project was to attend the Meeting of the International Tennis Federation at Basle in Switzerland. In the flight to Basle I met the USSR representative who was going to the Meeting, having proposed a motion for the expulsion of South Africa. The USA, Britain, Australia and France had 12 votes each whilst the Asian and African countries had no votes. I told him they should withdraw their motion as it would be defeated and another motion could not be presented for another two years. I realized that Russia was presenting such resolutions in the world federations for propaganda purposes and in future we should get an African country to propose the resolution. When Russia proposed a resolution the USA and other Western countries would never support it.
I met with Fred Labusgagne once more and he introduced me to the President of the South African Lawn Tennis Association who rudely asked me why I wrote so many lies about his association in the document I was distributing to the delegates. I replied that if he pointed out the lies, I would correct them. Of course he never did.
As I could not attend the meeting I went for a walk with Fred Labusgagne and we sat on a bench near the Rhone River; first he apologised for the rudeness of the SA delegate and then jokingly he said that if he pushed me in the fast flowing Rhone River that would be the end of SANROC!
On the way to the airport we sat together on the bus and we had a discussion about Rugby and he said that the Blacks in SA did not play Rugby; I pointed out that there was a Non-Racial Rugby Federation in Port Elizabeth and he was surprised; Years later when he was back in SA he gave space in the Sunday Times to Mr Patel the President of the Non-Racial Federation and to his surprise he was barred from Newlands Rugby ground by the White Rugby Board.
Fred was actually a Boss Agent (Bureau of State Security) in London.
Late in 1966 Reg Hlongwane arrived in London after going to Botswana and Kenya, where he had met with Reg Alexander, the IOC member for Kenya. Reg Alexander called us at the SANROC Office and said a member of the South African Olympic Association was in London and wanted to meet us. He was staying at the Grosvenor House in Park Lane. We went to meet with Reg Alexander and Mr McIldowie, white member of the South African Olympic Association. He started by telling us he was a relative of General Smuts and voted for the United Party; we told him we hadn’t come to discuss his politics but sport and particularly Racism in South African sport. He did not agree that SA Sports was carried out according to Apartheid policies. He then told us he had offered a hand of friendship, which we had refused – That was the end of the meeting.
In July 1966 Dennis Brutus and his family arrived in London on a one-way Exit Permit, having been allowed to leave SA with his British Passport. I went to fetch him at the airport and it was the day of the World Cup Final at Wembley between England and Germany. The BBC had offered a ticket to Dennis- I drove him to Wembley and purchased a ticket and we both watched the World Cup Final.
With Dennis in London a new chapter of the struggle would start.
After the World Cup we went to the parking to get my car and we met with Fekrou Kidane, journalist from Sudan, we introduced ourselves as SANROC representatives. He took us to a General Assembly of the African Football Confederation where we met the President Yednekatchew Tessema and Ram Ruhee the Mauritian delegate and all the other delegates. FIFA the world Football body suspended South Africa in 1961 and the suspension was lifted in 1963 and the suspension was reimposed in Tokyo in 1964. The football story will be completed later.
A few days later Dennis went to Jamaica for the Commonwealth Games where he canvassed the delegates about the situation in South Africa and the difficulties for SANROC to organise against the Apartheid Government.
Later in 1966 Dennis and I were going to Bamako for a meeting of the Supreme Council for Sport in Africa; In Paris we were refused a visa by the Mali Embassy. We had to sign a document when we boarded the UTA flight in Paris that we would be flown back. On the flight we met the Tunisian Sports Minister who said he would wait until we were cleared by the Immigration in Mali. He actually waited for us until we cleared the Passport control.
We met the President of the Supreme Council, Andre Hombessa, and the next day and discussed the South African case with him. He told us the matter was not on the Agenda but when he opened the Meeting he would say that the Item would be included and that he would name a commission to discuss the matter and report back to the Congress; On that Committee he would include Reg Alexander of Kenya (a friend of South Africa), the delegate of Tanzania and the delegate of Mali.
When the commission met of course Reg Alexander was in minority and was charged by the Commission to deliver their recommendations to the Congress. He was furious to call for the exclusion of South Africa from the Olympic Movement, which was the recommendation of the Commission.
When we arrived in Dakar on our way back to Paris, Reg Alexander shouted at me that I was responsible for the decision of the SCSA.
Meeting of IAAF in Budapest
Later in 1966 Dennis and I travelled to Budapest in Hungary to attend the Congress of the International Amateur Athletics Federation. The Hungarians had booked us at a Hunting Lodge outside Budapest far from the other delegates. But we managed to contact Abraham Ordia of Nigeria by telephone and were informed that the delegates were at the Gellert Hotel were we met with the African delegates. It was arranged that the Egyptian delegate would raise the SA Case under Sundries of the Agenda. When the Item arrived the Chairman, the Marques of Exeter, would not allow the Egyptian to speak and said he had promised to hear Abraham Ordia. There was uproar and Ordia was absent, as he knew the African delegates would object to his being allowed to speak, as they knew of his friendship with The Marques of Exeter. I remember telling Dennis that if there were no racialism in World Sport we would create it!
Finally Lord Exeter closed the Meeting without a discussion of the South African problem.
Meeting of Weightlifting Federation
In 1966 we also attended the Congress of the International Weightlifting Federation in East Berlin. Reg Hlongwane and I attended. We got a majority of delegates to sign a declaration for the Inclusion of the South African Case on the Agenda, which was opposed by Oscar State, the Secretary! We asked the East German delegate if he would raise the matter and he said he could not as his Federation was the host of the Championship but he would ask another Eastern European country to do so. The delegates from Hungary, Poland and Czechoslovakia left the meeting to see us but we decided to ask the Egyptian delegate to raise the issue. At the same time there were African National Congress students who had gathered in East Berlin to demonstrate against the South African Team and the organisers wanted us to call them off. An official of the Foreign Office arrived to join in the discussions. We finally agreed that if they raised the South African Case at the meeting and we obtained a Commission of Enquiry, we would ask the students to cancel their demonstration. A commission of Enquiry was voted for!
The case of Weightlifting is very interesting. In 1946 the representative of non-white weightlifters wrote to the British Empire Games Weightlifting Federation asking that they be granted some form of recognition, as the officially recognised body for South Africa restricted its membership to only White weightlifters.
Oscar State replied
“I placed the matter before the Central Council. They considered your request with sympathy but it is with regret that I have to inform you that we cannot bring any pressure on the South African Weightlifting Federation to force them to recognise you. Their rules, as with all the national sporting associations in South Africa, will not permit of mixed contests between white and coloured athletes. This is also a condition of the South African Olympic Council; therefore no coloured man could be chosen to represent South Africa in international contests. For these reasons we cannot support your claim against the South African Weightlifting Federation.
However, we can suggest an alternative method for you to secure recognition for your lifters. We advise you to form an association of your own with some such like title as ‘The Indian (or Coloured) Amateur Weightlifters’ Association of South Africa’. If you can present us with a properly drawn-up constitution and rules, we are prepared to grant you full recognition as an affiliated association. Your members would then be entitled to our assistance on all lifting matters, your records would then be recognised as South African (Coloured) and if high enough, as British Empire records. Please advise me as soon as possible of your intentions in this matter.”
This is a classical example of international acceptance of racism in South African sport. It shows the disregard of the Olympic Charter, the Statutes of the International Weightlifting Federation and basic sportsmanship by the officials of an international organisation. The black Weightlifters did not accept the conditions set by Mr. State for recognition and in 1969 the white weightlifting organisation was finally expelled from the international organisation in the face of strong opposition from Mr. State, who was then secretary of the International Federation.
By that time Precious McKenzie, a black South African weightlifter, had left South Africa and settled in the United Kingdom in order further his career. When I was in South Africa in 1963 I had organised the Precious McKenzie show at Johannesburg and invited journalists and officials of weightlifting. As Precious was the best in his weight division it would send the message that he should be in the 1964 Olympic team. The South African Sunday Times had a headline that Precious McKenzie had qualified for the Olympics. The White Weightlifting Association tried to convince Precious to join their team if he would join an affiliate and resign from the Non-Racial Association of which he was a member but Precious said that he would not leave the Non-racial body until all Black weightlifters could compete on an equal basis with the White weightlifters. Precious went on to represent Great Britain at the Commonwealth Games in 1966, 1970 and 1974 and won Gold Medals and set Commonwealth records.
IOC Session Teheran 1967
In 1967 the IOC was holding its Session at Teheran in Iran. Dennis and I applied for visas which were refused at first as we were expected to be trouble makers. We sent telegrams to Haile Sellasie of Ethiopia, Habib Bourguiba, President of Tunisia and King Hassan of Morocco asking for their intervention in our favour. We received a call from the Iranian Embassy asking us to call at the Embassy. We were received with coffee and biscuits and were granted our visas.
At that time the Secretary of the IOC was Mr Westerhof, formerly a colonel of the Dutch army in Indonesia, who supported South Africa! Before we left for Teheran we saw an article in The Sunday Times of SA in which he was quoted as saying “with the progress made by South Africa the African members would have to calm down”. I copied his statement in our document for the IOC members. Mr Westerhof was furious as he had no right to make statements on behalf of the IOC. I approached the Count de Beaumont who mistook me for a member of the South African delegation! He then told me he would speak to Jean-Claude Ganga and ask him to calm down about South Africa. I then told him that we worked with Ganga; He then told me that we were too political.
At the IOC Session it was decided that a three men commission would be sent to South Africa to study the problem and make their recommendation. The Commission was composed of Lord Killanin, Sir Ademola of Nigeria and Reg Alexander of Kenya.
Dennis and I applied for South African visas to give evidence to the Commission. The South African ambassador was greatly surprised of our audacity! Of course they were refused, but we had told the SA press and the Commission was forced to hear our evidence in Lausanne.
The report of the commission was made public just before the IOC Session in Grenoble prior to the Winter Olympics. The report was a blatant acceptation of the situation in South Africa and recommended that Apartheid South Africa should be invited to the 1968 Olympics in Mexico. Hadj Benjelloum from Morocco spent some time studying the report with Dennis and I and spoke 15 times during the debate. Most of the IOC members had not read the report and finally voted a resolution that the IOC Executive should recommend to the absent members that they should adopt the recommendation of the commission! But this was not constitutional as there was a quorum and the absentees did not have to be consulted, but Avery Brundage took the decision and that was that!
When I was heading for the train station I saw Lord Killanin at the bar and he called me for a chat. He told me that Reg Alexander had certified that the African countries would not boycott the Games. I told him that Alexander was wrong and that all Africa would boycott! He seemed worried and seemed to feel that they had made a mistake! When the final result of the vote was published, South Africa was invited to the Games. Our struggle would have to amplify.
The next day I was invited by ITV to give our reaction and minutes earlier Lord Exeter had said that in 1948 these African countries had not participated and the Games had been a great success! As I was waiting to be interviewed the news came on the air that Ethiopia had announced they would boycott, followed by Algeria and Uganda. Their announcements were cheered by the TV staff.
Mexico announced that that the Games without Africa would be a farce. After the decision to boycott by the African countries Avery Brundage decided to visit South Africa, apparently to visit the Game Reserve- Kruger National Park. During his visit he met with the Reg Honey the IOC member and officials of the South Africa Olympic Committee and asked them to withdraw from the 1968 Games. He showed them his Lawyer’s opinion which confirmed that South Africa could not be excluded unless it was ratified by an IOC Session or the Executive of the IOC. The South Africans refused, which placed Brundage in an awkward position as he had not wanted the IOC take the decision.
Brundage called a meeting of the Executive in Lausanne. Syed Wajid Ali of Pakistan told the meeting that if South Africa was not excluded he did not know how he would return home, and face massive demonstrations! There was a break for Tea and Dennis Brutus approached Ramirez Vasquez of Mexico and told him that he had information that the safety of the South African team could not be guaranteed due to the unpopularity of Apartheid South Africa. Ramirez Vasquez thanked Brutus and went back to the meeting and announced that Mexico would not be able to guarantee the safety of the South Africans. A vote was then taken which excluded South Africa unanimously! Brundage came out and announced the Exclusion of South Africa from the Mexico Olympics, and he looked very upset as he had supported South Africa throughout his term of Office.
Mexico Olympics 1968
San-Roc then prepared to travel to Mexico and get South Africa excluded from International Sports Federations. Dennis Brutus and I stopped over in New York and went to a meeting with the American Committee on Africa which supported our struggle. There we were introduced to Jim Bouton, a famous Baseball player of the New York Yankees, who proposed to accompany us and a black footballer, Steve Mokone (Kalamazoo) who had played for Ajax and other professional clubs who also wanted to accompany us. This was very helpful as we had limited funds and checked into a small bed & breakfast and we had no funds to hire a car. Bouton hired a car for us, which made our work much easier.
The IOC members were staying at the Camino Real, a five star hotel in mid town. In the lobby of the Hotel Jim Bouton was recognised by Alexander Roby, the US Olympic member, who told him that he did not know Jim was interested in the Olympics, and invited him for a drink in his suite. When Jim told him that he was helping a group of concerned South Africans about South Africa and the IOC. Roby stopped him short and asked him if he was a communist or something and that was the end of the drink.
The Supreme Council for Sport in Africa was present in Mexico and held their annual meeting, which we attended. Jean Claude Ganga, Secretary General, confirmed their determination to have Apartheid South Africa excluded from the Olympic Movement and all the different International Federations.
Dennis and I were rushing from meetings of the different International Federations. We went to the International Boxing Federation, whose president was Col Russell of England, and met with the Tunisian member who told us he would raise the issue of South Africa. When he raised the case of Apartheid South Africa the majority voted for their expulsion. That was the easiest victory we ever had!
At the Olympic Village we met many Black American athletes, Lee Evans, Tommie Smith, who later held his Black Gloved fist with John Carlos at their Medal ceremony for the 200 meters. We brought back the black athletics coach to the hotel where the Supreme Council had organised a press conference. He went on stage and was very moved to be amongst African brothers and divulged the demonstrations the Black athletes would make, such as wearing black gloves and giving a Black Power Salute. When we drove him back to the village he was very nervous about what he had said and asked us if it would be published! We got back to the hotel and saw Jean Claude Ganga and Guirandou N’Dyaye and told them about the nervousness of the American coach. They assured us that only African journalists had been present and it would remain a secret.
Student riots threaten Mexico Olympics
More than 25 people have been killed during a vicious gun battle in Mexico City just days before the Olympic Games are due to begin.
Thousands of students had gathered for a meeting organised by the National Strike Council in La Plaza de las Tres Culturas in Tlatelolco to protest against the military occupation of the National Polytechnic Institute.
The protesters, many of whom were women and children, had been planning to march through a working-class suburb of the city, but by early evening military personnel in armoured vehicles had surrounded the square.
The Mexican government say “agitator groups” among the students began shooting at the crowds from buildings, which resulted in a 90-minute gun fight
General Marcelino Garcia Barragan, Mexico’s defence minister said the army began firing into the crowd in self-defence after they found themselves targets of sniper fire from buildings in the square.
But several eye-witnesses claim the army entered the square in seven or eight armoured tanks and began shooting first.
After the fighting had subsided dozens of bodies lay strewn across the square, many more were injured.
More than 500 people were arrested.
The violence follows weeks of demonstrations by students demanding democratic reform and social justice. They have used the international focus on Mexico City because of the Olympics to promote their message.
In September, President Gustavo Díaz Ordaz, in a bid to suppress the protests and cause minimum disruption to the Olympics, ordered the military occupation of the National Polytechnic Institute in Mexico City.
At this stage it is not clear whether the 7,000 athletes, currently preparing for the Games 11 miles away from Tlatelolco in the Olympic Village, were in danger. It is the first time the Olympics have been held in a Latin American country.
Lord Exeter, British vice-president of the International Olympic Committee told the Times: “The riots have nothing to do with the Olympic Games. The students are not protesting against the games but against the Mexican government.”
The IOC met the next day and the Guardian Journalist who had been on a balcony when the demonstration was taking place had seen Oriana Falacci an Italian journalist being wounded on the same balcony, was pleading for the Games to be abandoned but the IOC decided the Games would go on!
South African Mini Olympics
In 1969 the South African Olympic Association which ha been excluded from the Olympics decided to organise a Mini Olympics and invited athletes from friendly countries – England, France, Germany, Italy and others- to participate .
Sanroc was watching the Press reports from South Africa in order to press these countries to withdraw their teams. We had compiled a dossier of press clippings which we used to get countries to withdraw. France withdrew their gymnasts, England their athletes etc. I had built a file with all the press cuttings and on the radio I heard that Willy Brandt had been elected Chancellor. I called the German Embassy and told them that a German team was going to participate in the Mini Olympics in Apartheid South Africa which would damage the relations with Africa. The embassy sent a courier on Motor Bike to pick up the file and assured me it would be on Willy Brandt’s desk the same afternoon. The next day Germany announced its withdrawal!
But a week before the Mini Olympics we saw the Olympic Rings being used to publicize the games on the South African Sunday Times. I called Mr Brundage who was in Lausanne and told him Dennis Brutus would be flying to Lausanne to show him the Olympic Rings being used by the South Africans. Dennis went to Heathrow and got a flight to Switzerland. When Mr Brundage saw the picture on the Sunday Times, he was furious and immediately phoned South Africa and told them to cancel the use of the Olympic Rings. After this meeting with Dennis Brutus Mr Brundage sent us copies of all his correspondence with the South African Olympic Association.
Expulsion of South Africa from the IOC
Early in 1970 Wilfred Brutus and I attended the Congress of the Supreme Council for Sport in Africa (CSSA) at Cairo in Egypt. A commission was appointed to draw up the charges against the Olympic Committee of Apartheid South Africa. Sanroc was co-opted to work with the Commission. Wilfred and I drafted a document for approval by the Commission. With slight amendments our draft was adopted by the Commission. This document was forwarded to the IOC to be debated at their Session in Amsterdam in May 1970.
Sanroc had a strong delegation for the Session in Amsterdam composed of Omar Cassem, Isaiah Stein and Chris de Broglio. Dennis Brutus joined us before the vote was taken.
Sanroc officials started defining South Africa’s non-compliance with the Olympic Charter. We worked late into the night drafting a document which we finally extracted from the Killanin’s Commission report to the IOC. We found in the Commission’s report all the proofs that South Africa was not respecting and enforcing the IOC Charter. The next morning Omar Cassem went into the streets of Amsterdam looking for someone to type our document and he found a boy who took him to his mother who had a typewriter. She had difficulty typing in English, so we had to get it typed by the secretary of the Hotel manager. We gave the copy to Jean-Claude Ganga who was leading the African case against South Africa.
A few days before the IOC Session, we went to the presentation of the Sites for the Winter Olympics and we met with the Mayor of the Finnish city who was bidding for the 1976 Games and we told him that the Finnish IOC member, Eric Von Frankell, had visited South Africa and would lead the defence of South Africa. He was very angry and went to see Von Frankell straightaway and they had a heated discussion. During the IOC Session Von Frankell never said a word!
The South African delegation of Frank Braun, McIldowie and Opperman presented their arguments against the Supreme Council charges which had been presented by Jean-Claude Ganga. Ganga asked for an adjournment to study the document written in English. We went with Ganga went to his bedroom to study the document. We told him that their document did not reply to the charges but mentioned that Brundage had shown them his lawyer’s opinion that the IOC could not withdraw their invitation to the Mexico Olympics. When Ganga pointed out that the South Africans had quoted his lawyer’s opinion, Brundage was furious and told them that his lawyer’s opinion was his property. Brundage was getting tired of his South African friends.
When the vote was taken the expulsion of South Africa was voted by a majority of ONE! Which means that APARTHEID South Africa still had many friends in the IOC? There were less African and Asian members than the Anglo-Saxon and European members in the IOC. Africa only had 3 members.
After the vote I went to Mr Honey and told him that the South African Olympic Committee should now fight against Apartheid in sport; Mr Honey then told me “I will play with whom I want and against whom I want”.
The expulsion of South Africa from the IOC meant that we would find it easier to press for their expulsion from the different International Sports Federations.
Montreal Olympics 1976
Dennis Brutus and I were in Cuba in early 76 for a United Nation’s Conference against Apartheid. We had a meeting with some anti-apartheid committees and we discussed the problem of New Zealand participation in the Olympics and Dennis was in favour of a declaration that Africa should boycott if New Zealand was invited. I was not sure as the IOC was not going to exclude New Zealand for a Rugby problem and I felt the matter should wait until the Supreme Council for Sport in Africa took the decision.
But when the Organisation of African Unity met in Mauritius later that year someone, God knows who, sent a cable to Idi Amin, President of the OAU, asking the OAU to declare that Africa would boycott if New Zealand was invited to the Montreal Olympics. So without the Supreme Council being consulted the OAU passed a resolution that Africa would boycott if New Zealand was invited.
I did not go to the Games as I could not leave my hotel as my Manager was going on holiday! Jean Claude Ganga called me from Montreal and asked me to call the Tanzanian Embassy and ask them to contact Nyerere and ask him to send Tanzanian team to Montreal so the Supreme Council and all its members could take the decision to boycott or not to boycott. I called the embassy and they contacted me about 24hours later and said that Nyerere could not send its team which had been disbanded! In fact the New Zealand anti Apartheid movement had sent Trevor Richards to Tanzania earlier and got Tanzania to decide against participating if NZ took part.
So in Montreal a major African country was not there. When I called Ganga to tell him about Nyerere’s decision, he told me the problem was that other African countries like Nigeria, Algeria, and Kenya could not do less than Tanzania and would therefore leave Montreal, which is what happened! It was a disaster for Africa as NZ took part and Africa was not there. It was all due to lack of coordination between the Supreme Council, the OAU, the New Zealand Anti-Apartheid committee and Sanroc.
Nevertheless the African officials remained in Montreal and the International Athletics Federation met to discuss the expulsion of the South African Athletic Association and the Marques of Exeter who was still the President wanted the vote to be passed by 75 % of the voting system. But the Africans knew that if the vote was according to the voting system, in which the USA and Britain and six other European members had eight votes each, whilst African countries only had one vote, They would have no chance of expelling South Africa. Jean-Claude Ganga and Abraham Ordia met with the Marques of Exeter and told him that Africa was planning to present him with a cup to congratulate him as he was retiring as President, but would not be able to do so if South Africa was not expelled. The Marques of Exeter agreed that each country would have one vote and South Africa was expelled.
STOP THE SEVENTY TOUR
The South African – Springbok – side arrived at the end of October 1969 for its 25-match tour of the British Isles.
During the last few weeks of September and throughout October Peter Hain and Hugh Geach did a tremendous amount of work, building up awareness and arousing activity.
Peter Hain was made Chairman of Stop the Seventy Tour which was going to direct the campaign against the Tour.
By the middle of October there was a lot of support for action against the tour. Action groups were beginning to flower at the tour centres. On 23rd October it was announced that weed killer had been sprayed on Oxford University’s rugby ground- a week before the team was due to arrive. The words ‘Oxford Rejects Apartheid’ appeared in 5ft letters on the pitch. The next day, the University Rugby Club officials called off the match.
This was the beginning of a massive campaign of demonstrations during the whole tour.
After the match at Leicester the South African papers had very definite views on the demonstration. Die Beeld stated in its editorial on 9 November;
‘We have become accustomed to Britain becoming a haven for all sorts of undesirables from other countries. Nevertheless it is degrading to see how a nation can allow itself to be dictated to by this bunch of left-wing, work-shy, refugee, long-hairs that in a society of any other country would be rejects’.
When the tour moved to Wales where 2000 demonstrators marched on the ground before the match started. Then as the march neared the ground, police and demonstrators clashed for the first time.
The tour continued with massive demonstrations at all venues organised by Stop the Seventy Tour. The tour was a fiasco never to be repeated!
When South Africa became a Republic and withdrew from the Commonwealth in 1961, she forfeited her membership of the Imperial Cricket Conference, which admits only Commonwealth countries. The loss of membership hardly affected South Africa, as the ICC allowed her to continue participating in International matches on an “unofficial” basis.
On January 22, 1970, the MCC committee decided unanimously that South Africa be invited to tour Britain in the summer. This decision confirmed that in spite of its condemnation of Apartheid, the MCC was perfectly happy to play host to an all-white South African side, selected from a White minority and backed by the Apartheid government and representing South Africa.
South Africa had just been expelled from the International Olympic Committee, and the opposition to the tour was growing.
It began by reducing the number of matches from 24 to 12, shortening the tour from 19 weeks to 11. In addition, the games were restricted to eight grounds, to make it easier to cope with the expected large demonstrations. Barbed wire and barriers were erected at Lords in February, in anticipation of attempts to damage the pitch before the summer. County clubs hired guard dogs and extra grounds men to safeguard their grounds.
Meanwhile the forces of protest against the tour were increasing day by day, indicating that by the time the South African side arrived at the end of May, there would be a formidable array of demonstrators.
In addition to the Anti-Apartheid movement, Sanroc and the Stop-the-Seventy-Tour Committee of Peter Hain, numerous other bodies announced their intention to demonstrate.
A petition with 12000 signatures was presented to the MCC by a delegation composed of MPs, the Anti-Apartheid Movement, STST and Sanroc.
I and Isaiah Stein went to meet with James Callaghan the Home Secretary. We asked that Visas be withdrawn for the SA team. He told us it could not be done because visas were not required. We suggested that visas should be imposed, but he told us that it would be difficult. We then said that there would be serious demonstrations wherever the matches took place. He said that would help for the government to stop the tour!
Finally the tour was cancelled by the Government.
I met Arthur Ashe in Bristol when he was playing in a tournament. I heard on the radio that he was playing so I rushed to the train station and took a train to Bristol. At the stadium I saw him so I approached him and explained I was from Sanroc and wanted to speak to him. I told him that he should apply for a visa to play in the South African Open. I explained that the visa would not be granted which would be great publicity for our cause. He agreed and I gave him our contact address in London.
He applied for the visa which was not granted and he often contacted me when he was in London and continued to apply for visas which were always refused. I even took him to a meeting of the African National Congress in London, which impressed him very much!
In 1974 I read in the Times that he was in London and was going to South Africa to play in the SA Championships. I rang his hotel and arranged to meet him later. I contacted Omar Cassem and Jasmat Dhiraj and we went to meet him. We asked him if his visa had been granted and he said it had been. He the produced a letter on which he was applying for the visa and he pointed out that Dennis Brutus had OK’d it. What he had not told Dennis is that he had applied after being guaranteed by the organiser that it would be granted.
So we argued that he should not go, but he said that he would go as he could change the apartheid laws affecting racism in tennis. We disagreed but then asked him to contact M.N. Pather when he was in South Africa and donate his prize money to the South African Council of Sport, the Non-Racial organisation.
He agreed and we left on friendly terms.
To our surprise he wrote an article for the London Sunday Times about his experiences in South Africa and wrote that Chris de Broglio and Sanroc members had met him when he was in London and that they had lost touch with events in South Africa.
Actually he met M.N Pather at the US consulate in Durban and Pather was not happy with that arrangement as it was not in a private venue which they would have preferred. But Arthur Ashe could not be contacted as the South African organiser of the tournament always answered the phone and he was the one who organised the meeting at the US Consulate offices.
He lost to Connors in the final and won the doubles, but the Non-racial Tennis body never saw any share of the prize money!
In 1977 Arthur called me and said he would like to meet with the young people from Soweto. I organised lunch with Tietsi Mashinini, Barney Moghatle and Selby. I introduced them and was cooking the lunch in my hotel’s kitchen. Arthur started detailing his reasons for going to South Africa, having met with Ministers and Black people in Soweto etc. When he finished Mashinini told him to start again and he would listen carefully; When he finished Mashinini said that he had contributed to building Tennis courts in Soweto, which the youth in Soweto had burned and they would do it again and then told Arthur that he should concentrate his efforts in America and let Black South Africans take care of their problem!
He also said that Sanroc was very informed about South Africa and truly represented opinion in Soweto.
After South Africa was expelled from FIFA, Sir Stanley Rous the President of FIFA authorised an international match between South Africa and a team composed of Brazilians and English players. This was in contravention of the FIFA rules, which could allow a match between a Non-Member country such as China and not an expelled country.
I wrote to Stanley Rous questioning his decision and gave it to the Press and advised the African members of FIFA and the African Football Federation.
I saw in a South African Newspaper that an opinion poll had been taken in Soweto of 7 people and the majority was for the match. On the Sunday I had lunch with Colin Legum, the Observer Commonwealth Correspondent, and Met Helen Suzman who said that the people of Soweto wanted the match. I pointed out that the poll of 7 persons was not a serious poll.
I called Bishop Tutu in Johannesburg and told him I was calling him about the Football match. He said that Jomo Sono was in his office. I told him about the Poll of 7 people and asked him to do all he could to have the match cancelled. He discussed with Sono and they decided that the match would be cancelled.
Some time later a football match was planned between Southern Rhodesia and South Africa. When we heard about it we started our campaign to have the match cancelled. We sent telegrams to the African Football Federation and its individual members, Tessema of Ethiopia, Dr Halim of Sudan and many others. At the same time we kept the press informed. The Rhodesian football had an African President. Jean-Claude Ganga, Secretary of the Supreme Council for Sport in Africa called the African President and warned him that if the match went ahead he would be banned from Africa and that his Association would never be recognised by the African Football Federation as long he was President.
Smith of Rhodesia and Vorster were planning to attend the match when the Rhodesian Football Association called off the match.
When Ganga was phoning the African President of Rhodesian football the lady operator asked if he needed an interpreter. Ganga replied “What language am I speaking” she replied that it was English. So Ganga asked what was the problem. He did not want what he said to be wrongly translated in favour of the Rhodesians.
Some time in 1973 Donald Woods contacted Sanroc and told us that he had a very important message for us. We met him with Dennis Brutus, myself, Peter Hain and Isaiah Stein.
He told us that Piet Koornoff, South African Minister of Sport, wanted to know what were our conditions for lifting the boycott of South African sport. We discussed with him for some time and then told him that we would draft a reply to be presented to Minister Koornoff which we would give to him before his return to South Africa; Donald Woods was at that time editor of the Daily Dispatch in Port Elizabeth.
We drafted the following document;
- Sport should be non-racial in South Africa.
- Non-racial sports bodies should be recognised by the South African Government.
- Racial segregation of schools should be abolished.
- School sports should be non-racial;
- There should be only one National sports organisation for each code of sport. A non-racial one.
- The Group Areas Act should be abolished.
- Banning orders against Dennis Brutus and other Sports administrators have to be lifted.
- Sanroc officials would have to return to South Africa and be free to organise sport along Non-racial lines.
The document was given to Donald Woods to be delivered to Minister Koornoff.
About one month later Donald Woods phone me from Geneva and said that Koornoff had read the document and was ready to discuss with the Sanroc Executive. I told him that none of our recommendations had been implemented and until some of them were implemented we would not be able to discuss with the Minister.
That was the last time we heard from Piet Koornoff.
Miss World 1975-1976
Some time in 1975 Dennis Brutus and I went to meet with Mrs Morley the organiser of the Miss World contest. We told her that the Miss South Africa was a racist event reserved for Whites only. She told us that she had contacted the South African organisers who had confirmed that the event was for Whites only according to South African law.
We said that we would call for a boycott of Miss World if South Africa took part. She suggested that South Africa could send a White contestant and a Black one. We told her that would be acceptance of Apartheid and would be boycotted in the same way.
But in 1975 there would be just the White contestant. We said we wuld call for a boycott of the event. She suggested that we should try and organise a boycott, but that the countries would not boycott the event!
Sanroc then called on all the countries to boycott the evnt. Our boycott movement was followed by about ten countries but we decided to plan a bigger boycott movement in 1976.
In 1976 a number of countries announced that they would boycott the event. I was invited by the BBC to appear on a program to discuss with Mrs Morley. The program went well with both sides giving their opinion but just as the program was shutting down, Mrs Morley said ” Chris de Broglio you are an hippocrite”. The interviewer apologised and I agreed it had been a late intervention by Mrs Morley;
But a couple of days later in a newspaper article about the Miss World Contest, Mrs Morley repeated the accusation. I then went with my Advocate to see a Judge in Chambers requesting an Injunction against Mrs Morley using my name in any further interview. The judge granted the Injunction which was served at the Royal Albert Hall just before the start of the event.
the receptionist at my hotel received a phone call a few minutes later and a man told her that he had been given £ 10,000 to Fix Chris de Broglio.
The show had been greatly disorganised: A large number of African Asian and Latin American countries had withdrawn their participants at the last minute and the BBC which had filmed the Event earlier had been forced to edit the films and cancel all the images of the boycotting participants. The BBC would themselves have to boycott the event in 1977 unless the South African White and Black girls were withdrawn.
The participation of Apartheid South Africa finished in 1976.
On a Saturday afternoon in 1972, I was at my hotel in the Sanroc office and Sam Ramsamy entered. I don’t know how he found the address of Sanroc! He asked me if he could study the files of Sanroc for his thesis at the Leeds Physical Education College. After talking for a while I agreed that he could access our files. So Sam came frequently and studied our files. He later told me that his thesis had helped him qualify for his course.
I often wonder how Sam could have financed his studies at Leeds Physical Education College after working as a school teacher in Durban and without a scholarship! He also did not have passport problems at a time when Black South Africans could not leave South Africa legally, but had to cross the border without passports! It is all very strange!
I have read an interview he gave to the French workers Sports Federation in which he says he studied in England from 1966 to 1969 and left South Africa in 1972 to evade arrest y the Security Police. But in 1972 he told me he was studying at Leeds and he would be going back to South Africa in 1974?
He was planning to return to South Africa for a while and get back is job as teacher in Durban. I gave him the names of our contacts in SA, M.N Pather, Morgan Naidoo, George Singh and my Code Name- CARSON. Which was an anagram for Sanroc? There was no real reason for Ramsamy to return to South Africa, especially as he had been in contact with Sanroc and faced arrest or questioning by the Security police. He did not know M.N Pather, Morgan Naidoo or George Singh as he had not had any Anti-Apartheid activities.
In fact Ramsamy was 35 years old when he came to see me and ask to see the Sanroc files and at the time he claimed having been in athletics and swimming in South Africa, but he never had any Anti Apartheid activities when in South Africa and had never joined the Non-Racial sports organisations. When he went back to South Africa in 1974-75 I gave him all our contacts in South Africa. I should have been more suspicious and checked about his previous activities.
I don’t remember but I think he stayed for about six months. He then came back to London and got a job as a school teacher. By that time he was integrated in the Sanroc executive with Reg Hlongwane, Isaiah Stein, Omar Cassem and Jasmat Dhiraj. We had meetings every two weeks.
Then I contacted Jean-Claude Ganga to get a scholarship for Sam at Leipzig to specialize in Swimming. Ganga gave him a scholarship which had been awarded by East Germany to the Supreme Council. Sam Ramsamy then went to Leipzig for about nine months in 1975/76. When in East Germany he had met a German girl whom he had promised to marry but she was not allowed to leave East Germany. I asked Ganga to intervene with the East German authorities to allow her to leave East Germany to Marry Sam. Finally I went with Sam to meet the East German Ambassador to ask him to contact his government and allow Helga to marry Sam; it was finally authorized and he went to East Germany to get married.
Very soon there was conflict with Reg Hlongwane and later with Dennis Brutus, when he came to London from America. We had a meeting and Dennis opened the meeting. Sam objected as he was the Chairman. I said that as Dennis was President he should act as Chairman. But Sam refused and the meeting was abandoned, with very bad feelings all-round.
When Sam went to the Montreal Olympics to represent Sanroc, he came back and never reported on the positive aspects, such as the expulsion of
South Africa from the IAAF, but kept attacking Dennis Brutus who had flown back to Chicago for a few days and then returned. He seemed to want to get rid of Dennis Brutus as President. And I have never known why! He also told Abraham Ordia not to shake hands with Precious McKenzie,
a South African Weightlifter in the New Zealand team, who had done much more than Sam Ramsamy against Apartheid!
Some time later a brick was thrown through the glass window of his house. It was either because he was the SANROC Chairman or that he was married to a White woman. In any case we felt that he had to move out of his area and move to a more secure area. I approached Canon Collins who awarded £ 10,000 for us to finance a new house for Sam. He sold his house in Walthamstow found a house in Hampstead and moved in.
At that time I felt that I could not work almost single handed with the IOC and about 25 sports federations and that Sam should be employed as Chairman. He resigned his post and we paid him the same salary as a school teacher.
When Sam Ramsamy joined Sanroc most of the hard work had been done – Apartheid South Africa had been expelled or suspended from the following;
IOC- International Olympic Committee- South Africa expelled May 1970
Athletics –Suspended 1972
Basketball – South Africa barred from the World Championships.
Boxing – South Africa expelled 1968
Cycling – South Africa barred from World Championships April 1970.
Fencing – South Africa suspended 1964
Gymnastics –South Africa barred from World Championships 1970
Judo – South Africa refused membership 1969.
Netball – South Africa Excluded from 1970 World Netball Tournament.
Pentathlon – South Africa barred from World Championships in 1969.
Football – South Africa suspended 1964 and expelled 1976
Table-Tennis – White body expelled and Non-Racial body recognised 1956.
Tennis – South Africa suspended from Davis Cup 1970
Weightlifting — South Africa expelled 1969
Wrestling – South Africa expelled 1970
Cricket- Tour of Britain 1970- Cancelled
Rugby – After 1970 Stop the Seventy Tour was responsible for stopping all further tours.
When the Commonwealth Games were scheduled to be held in Scotland, Sam had been in touch with Tanzania and he told me that they would get England banned from the Games. I pointed out that Prince Philip was the Patron of the Games and that England would never be banned but that Africa would boycott or the Games would be cancelled. He was furious at my comments!
Some time when Sam was not there, Isaiah Stein, who had been with Sanroc since he arrived in Britain after 24 hour house arrest in Cape Town, told me that Sam had asked him to join him and he would get an office away from my hotel and start the new Sanroc. When Sam came back I challenged him about his new Sanroc plan. Without denying it – he attacked Isaiah and was very angry. He was very rude to Isaiah after that!
In 1997 I was awarded the Olympic Order. . I was recommended by Ram Ruhee (The IOC member for Mauritius) for my work against Apartheid Sport . Sam Ramsamy was present in the hall but evaded me!
I sometimes wonder if Ramsamy had an objective when he approached me in 1973!
I am now convinced that Ramsamy was sent to infiltrate Sanroc by the Bureau of State Security (BOSS).
Sanroc and South African sport would have been better without Sam Ramsamy