On this day in 1913, 80 women were arrested for protesting against the population control laws by burning their passes.
At the time, passes became implemented to control the mobility of the black population, particularly centring on white urban areas. Following the declaration to embark on an anti-pass passive resistance campaign, black women in Bloemfontein who were committed to this movement returned to the city centre to demand answers from the mayor, Ivan Haarburgen, on 29 May, 1913.
He told the women that the pass laws were subject to the authority of the Union government and it was beyond his power.
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The women did not become discouraged and took their fight to the local police station, where they protested. They tore up their passes and threw them to the ground, preferring to be arrested rather than suffer indignity. As a result, 80 women were arrested and charged for violating pass laws.
These arrests sparked an even bigger demonstration the following day. A crowd of about 600 women, headed by Mrs Molisapoli, marched and chanted slogans towards the magistrate's court where their comrades were being tried. When the police attempted to keep them off the steps of the court, a violent rebellion nearly broke out.
The accused women refused to accept that they were guilty and pay fines. They stated that they would rather go to jail. Eventually, the magistrate dismissed their charges, allowing them to go free.
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