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SAHA T-shirt archive, photographed for Common, curated by Khanya Mashabela for Common, 6 May–26 July 2023. Image courtesy of A4 Arts Foundation.
Title Release the Detainees Date Circa 1991 Type Archival garment
Dimensions 69 x 74 cm


"Offset litho produced by the Hunger Strikers' Committee."
Images of Defiance (1991)

In 1989, more than 300 South African political prisoners went on hunger strikes in protest of their detention without trial. Over 1000 people had been held without charge, some for over two years. 700 detainees joined the national wave of hunger strikes, the largest ever protest by prisoners. They were joined in solidarity by organisations in South Africa and around the world.

The government initially refused to be swayed by the protesting prisoners but when it became apparent that the hunger strikes were turning into a major local and international crisis, negatively impacting the image of the South African government, they began releasing detainees.