Today in history – Themba Sono is expelled from SASO

Monday, 3 July 1972…

Themba Sono was forced to resign as president of South African Student Organisation (SASO) before he was expelled from the organisation during the second annual General Student Council meeting (2 – 9 July) held in Hammanskraal. Sono’s expulsion came after giving a controversial opening address in his capacity as president of SASO. The address sharply conflicted with the very radical and non-pragmatic position of “no-contact” with ‘White liberals’ and separate development structures. Sono argued that SASO has to adopt a pragmatic approach and carefully collaborate with White liberals and some homeland leaders to advance the party’s interests and liberation of Black people.

He called for SASO: “To move away from the aloof attitude of regarding Bantustans and separate development bodies in negative light” and “Coalesce our efforts and coagulate our plans even with detractors” and furthermore, “seek out people who differ with us and we have to try to convert them to our way of thinking . this includes everybody – black or white whether they are security police, liberals, non-whites, etc”

The message contained in this address shocked SASO to the extent that immediately after giving this address, Sono was isolated. On the same evening a resolution distancing SASO from the presidential address was carried by a unanimous vote. The following morning a motion to expel Sono was passed without opposition. SASO went on to label him a “security risk” for the organisation and the “black community” at large. For this reason, Sono was asked to leave the conference site immediately.


• South African History Online., (2014), Themba Sono is expelled from SASO., [online] Available at http://www.sahistory.org.za/dated-event/themba-sono-expelled-saso [Accessed: 03 July 2017)

• Biko, S., (1968), ‘Steve Biko Brief Biography‘, from Digital Innovation South Africa, 11 September, [online] Available at disa.nu.ac.za [Accessed: 2 July 2014]

• Sona, Professor, t., (1972), ‘Professor Themba Sono Biography‘, from South African History Online, 3 July [online], Available at www.sahistory.org.za [Accessed: 2 July 2014]