South Africans Urged to Omit Race Identity

Associated Press

Protestant church leaders today urged South Africans to refuse to state their race on documents, a key measure in the administration of apartheid.

“If done on an increasing scale, this would eventually render the system unworkable,” the South African Council of Churches said in a resolution at the end of its annual conference in Johannesburg.

In another development, a leading black newspaper editor was detained without charge under the state of emergency regulations, his colleagues said.

The editor, who may not be identified under the emergency regulations, joined an estimated 1,800 political activists, church workers and labor leaders jailed without charge since the state of emergency was imposed June 12. Some detainees have been released in recent days. (Story, Page 10.)


The Council of Churches resolution urged whites, Indians and people of mixed race to erase the digit that denotes race from current identity documents and refuse to state race on other documents or applications.

New national identity documents, replacing passes for blacks and separate cards for whites, will not state race, but race still will be designated on most forms, including birth certificates and drivers licenses.

“This action goes to the root of apartheid. It is open to any and every adult South African,” said a council resolution.

“It is an internal pressure which does not rely on foreign influence. It is a way for those classified into privileged classes to express solidarity with those oppressed by their classification,” the resolution said.


The council includes representatives of the major Protestant churches in South Africa, but does not include the Dutch Reformed Church of the governing Afrikaners.

It was not immediately clear what penalties, if any, South Africans could incur for altering documents.

The state Information Bureau said today that six black men were killed, all apparently by fellow blacks, in the 24-hour period ending early today, bringing to 72 the number of people killed since the state of emergency was.