By Connor Collins


Poqo was the violent protest wing of the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) that evolved from the Africanist Task Force, in response to the government banning the PAC in 1960. The group was known for its brutal killing tactics, aimed at the white government and police, with the goal of completely overthrowing the government. Formed in 1960, the group started to make noise for itself in 1961, with the formation of cells in the townships of Mbekweni in Paarl and Langa in Cape Town. To gain support from the anti-apartheid movement, Poqo handed out flyers in Cape Town threatening violence against whites. Additionally, Poqo helped blacks to get permits and fight the influx control that the government opposed on them, which was a law that brought much anger to the blacks. In both townships, Poqo was known for its intimidating style of murder, based mainly against white support. For example, in January of 1962, Klaas Hozem was hacked to death with axes and sharp instruments, after he was accused of spying on Poqo. Poqo did not accept when people disobeyed their warnings, no matter what race, gender or age. In June of 1962, three women were hacked to death, purely for attending a party that was "advised to be strictly male". In order to set in stone that the murders were for political purposes, Poqo hung up a poster at the party's hostel warning inmates that in the future, more than just the women would be killed.

On the Eastern Cape, Poqo had other methods of recruitment, as creative as scheming bogus funerals to discuss plans with potential members. In April of 1962, Poqo set their target on the new chief of Transkei. When a mission to kill him went wrong, Poqo got into a skirmish with the police, and many significant members of the group were arrested both at the scene, and afterwords. In an attempt to break their comrades out of the jail, 250 Poqo members marched to the police station with the intent on burning it down. Once again, police responded by arresting even more members of the wing. Following the final push, a majority of Poqo was either sentenced to death or prison. From 1963-1969, Poqo was slowly taken down by the police, and fizzled out.


Poqo was vital to the anti-apartheid movement for several reasons. First, it motivated MK, the ANC's violent wing, to become a group, by forcing the ANC into action around 1960. The ANC needed to stay relevant to the protest, and decided to form their own violent wing, to match the PAC's. However, Poqo was very different than MK. As opposed to MK and other more conservative groups, Poqo made no effort to avoid the loss of life, and was a completely anti-white group. Anyone connected to the state would be brutally punished, to be made an example for all. Their ruthless killing techniques had a terrifying effect on South Africa. The entire population was scared of Poqo, and the government was forced to fight back with strict legislation. For example, the 1964 General Laws Amendment Act, was also known as the Sabotage Act, made sabotage a capital offense, and allowed the minster to charge house arrest without a trial. Additionally, the police often carried around firearms, for fear of their lives. Poqo had great political power, and showed the white government that the anti-apartheid movement was a force to be reckoned with.

The Azanian Manifesto

"Our struggle for national liberation is directed against the historically evolved system of racism and capitalism which holds the people of Azania in bondage for the benefit of the small minority of the population, i.e. the capitalists and their allies, the white workers and the reactionary sections of the middle classes. The struggle against apartheid, therefore, is no more than the point of departure for our liberatory efforts. The Black working class inspired by revolutionary consciousness is the driving force of our struggle for national self-determination in a unitary Azania. They alone can end the system as it stands today because they alone have nothing at all to loose. They have a world to gain in a democratic, anti-racist and socialist Azania, where the interests of the workers shall be paramount through worker control of the means of production, distribution and exchange. In the socialist republic of Azania the land and all that belongs to it shall be wholly owned and controlled by the Azanian people. The usage of the land and all that accrues to it shall be aimed at ending all exploitation."

Above is the intro to the Azanian Manifesto, the document that sums up the PAC's goal for anti-apartheid. They believed that in order to fight apartheid, the struggle for national liberation must be against racist capitalism. Therefore, Poqo fought to defend this document. The rest of the Manifesto can be viewed in the link below.\



"Poqo." Anonymous. Web. 16 Nov. 2015.

"Poqo in the Western Cape and Transkei in the Early 1960s." Jonas. Web. 16 Nov. 2015.

(link: http://www.sahistory.org.za/organisations/poqo)

1.4 Packet

Hlongwane, Ali Khangela. "Reflections on the Pan Africanist Congress 'Underground' in the era of the 1976 youth uprisings." Journal of Pan African Studies 3.4 (2009): 55+. World History Collection. Web. 15 Nov. 2015.