Fisher Street Security Branch office

The Security Branch of the South African Police was responsible for internal security rather than criminal activity, and was used by the government to suppress anti-apartheid organisations and activists. Also known as the Special Branch, police agents tried to prevent sabotage by armed militants and to curb activities the National Party regime considered subversive. The “SB” was an elite force within the state security apparatus, with a high profile that permitted access to all levels of official authority, and it operated with cold-blooded efficiency. Following the Sharpeville Massacre in 1961, the Minister of Justice, B.J. Vorster, instructed the Security Branch to track down, detain and torture suspected activists and opponents of apartheid. Police spies infiltrated banned underground organisations and political activists detained were subjected to interrogation frequently accompanied by torture. At the end of the apartheid era the Security Branch bombed the headquarters of COSATU and the South African Council of Churches. This building at 9 Fisher Street was the headquarters of the Security Branch in Durban. On 18 March 1976 Masobiya Joseph Mdluli was arrested for ANC-related activities and brought here. The injuries he suffered under interrogation led to his death the following day and four “SB” policemen were charged with homicide relating to this case. Although the Security Branch operatives were acquitted, the judge stated that the injuries that caused Mdluli's death could not have been self-inflicted or caused accidentally. He found that most, if not all, the injuries on Mdluli were inflicted by unidentified members of the Security Police.

Location

Address: 9 Masobiya Mdluli Street
GPS Points: -29.85286, 31.02419
Site Contact Details: Steven Kotze
Durban Local History Museums
steven.kotze@durban.gov.za
031 311 2239

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