Book details how support group grew to help SA's young anti-apartheid activists

A new book called 'The Knock on the Door' describes the moving story of a small parent support group that grew into a national organisation during apartheid.

The book details how the the Detainees Parents Support Committee (DPSC) was born and how it exposed injustices faced by apartheid prisoners.

The organisation supported families whose loved ones had been jailed, and also helped draw international attention to the atrocities being committed in South African prisons.

The story of anti-apartheid activist Keith Coleman and his mother is one of the stories shared in the book, and interwoven with history of DPSC.

The DPSC was born in 1981, after police imprisoned a number of young anti-apartheid activists without trial or even legal representation, and Coleman was among those sent to jail.

His mother and several other parents would then form DPSC, which became a political force to be reckoned with.

I was an activist from my universities days in 1978. Together with others, we started a newspaper called Saspu National.

Keith Coleman, anti-apartheid activist

The newspaper exposed what was going on in townships. We took photographs of police doing terrible things, worked with unions and brought to light what unreported.

Keith Coleman, anti-apartheid activist

I ended up in solitary confinement for five months. A friend of hours was in detention for three years.

Keith Coleman, anti-apartheid activist

We were very proud of his newspaper cause it was revealing the repression in the country.

Audrey Coleman, member of the Detainees Parents Support Committee

It was parents and loved ones who heard that we were meeting at the university. We all came together and started a group.

Audrey Coleman, member of the Detainees Parents Support Committee

David Webster, who was later assassinated, was one of the people who gave us a home at the university to meet.

Audrey Coleman, member of the Detainees Parents Support Committee

The group began to work out how we could come to the aid of our loved ones.

Audrey Coleman, member of the Detainees Parents Support Committee

As the detentions became more prolific, we realised our privilege and began giving tracksuits and takkies to other detainees.

Audrey Coleman, member of the Detainees Parents Support Committee

We started collecting the facts, figures and numbers of who was in detention. It slowly snowballed into a very large national organisation.

Audrey Coleman, member of the Detainees Parents Support Committee

Take a listen to the inspiring story:


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