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Charles van Geldenen

South Africa 4th Int’n’lists Back Ethiopia

Police Reply with Arrests and Repressions of Workers

(2 August 1935)

From New Militant, Vol. I No. 42, 12 October 1935, pp. 1 & 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).


Cape Town,
August 22, 1935

To Editor of New Militant:

Dear Comrade,

I am sending you a special report this week because the situation in South Africa is changing rapidly. A wave of reaction is sweeping over the country. The Fusion Government, agents of British imperialism and the Chamber of Mines, is determined to crush the left-wing movement.

A few weeks ago, comrades Roux and Ngedlane of the Communist Party were arrested and sentenced to four months imprisonment in connection with a leaflet they issued on the occasion of the royal jubilee of King George V. The charge was“lese majeste.” Last week, two more members of the Communist Party, comrades Gomas and Mina Gool were arrested on the same charge. Their case will come upon September 3, and there is no doubt that a salutary sentence will be imposed.

Now, the iron heel of the capitalist state is descending on the Fourth Internationalists. On Sunday, August 19, three members of the Communist League of S.A., comrades G.H. Gool, J. Pick, and C. van Gelderen addressed a meeting of over two hundred workers at Langa Native Location on the proposed Native Bills. They were accompanied by comrades J. Gool and L. Solomon, who distributed literature to the audience. At the back of the hall sat six plain clothes detectives, two police sergeants and two native policemen. The forces of reaction were quite evidently prepared for any emergency.

The three speakers dealt at length with the Native Bills. They pointed out that it was a deliberate attempt to deprive the Cape Native of his long cherished franchise, and urged the strongest resistance against the bills. All three speakers stressed that the fight should not only be against the present bills, but that it should go further and press for the extension of the franchise to all sections of the people. Comrade van Gelderen also dealt with the pending Italian attack on Abyssinia, and urged working class action to prevent the despatch of goods from South African ports to Italian troops.

Two resolutions were submitted to the meeting:

  1. That this mass meeting of Langa workers unanimously rejects the proposed Native Bills, which aim to deprive the Cape natives of their franchise, almost the only privilege left to them, and further pledges itself by every means in its power to struggle for the extension of the franchise to the Northern Provinces.
  2. That this meeting of Langa workers unanimously pledges itself to support Abyssinia, the only remaining independent African state, against the proposed assault by Italian imperialism, and further pledges itself to do everything in its power to prevent the despatch of goods from Union ports to Italian troops in East Africa.

Both these resolutions were adopted with great enthusiasm by the meeting.

Questions followed, in which the workers expressed keen interest in the program of the Communist League.

When the five comrades were about to leave the location, they were charged with entering the location without a permit, and were warned that a summons would be issued against them.

Notwithstanding the close attention now being paid to them by the police and the Criminal Investigation Department, the comrades intend continuing their propaganda in the location. A mass meeting on the Abyssinian question has been called for the following Sunday.

The reactionary persecutions of the Fusion Government will not prevent the growth of the revolutionary movement in South Africa. The forces of the state cannot prevent the irresistible growth of the movement for the Fourth International.


With revolutionary greetings,
for the Fourth International,
Charles van Geldenen [1]

Note by ETOL

1. This is obviously Charlie van Gelderen, a South African Trotskyist, who lived for many years in Britain.

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