Alternate Names: British Defence and Aid Fund for Southern Africa, Christian Action
Location: London, United Kingdom
The International Defence and Aid Fund for Southern Africa (IDAF) was an anti-apartheid organization that smuggled £100 million into South Africa for the defense of thousands of political activists and to provide aid for their families while they were in prison. IDAF grew out of Christian Action (CA), an organization set up by John Collins...
The International Defence and Aid Fund for Southern Africa (IDAF) was an anti-apartheid organization that smuggled £100 million into South Africa for the defense of thousands of political activists and to provide aid for their families while they were in prison. IDAF grew out of Christian Action (CA), an organization set up by John Collins aimed at relating Christianity to economic, social and political life, and that worked towards reconciliation with Germany and help for the starving people of Europe. In 1948 Collins was appointed Canon of St Paul's Cathedral in London. CA raised money raised money for the families and dependents of those sent to prison during the Defiance Campaign. In 1954 John went to South Africa where he saw apartheid and its effects for himself, and met activists and leaders in the liberation movements. In 1956, when 156 activists were arrested and charged with High Treason, Canon Collins sent £100 to Ambrose Reeves, Bishop of Johannesburg, asking him to brief the best available defense lawyers and pledging CA to raise the funds to pay legal expenses and care for the families of the Treason Trialists. Reeves, foreseeing further repression, suggested widening CA's terms of reference and so the British Defence and Aid Fund for Southern Africa (as it was originally called) was born. As repression in South Africa increased, Defence and Aid responded to ever more pressing political and legal defense needs. The organization grew and began to receive international recognition and support, mainly from the Scandinavian countries and the United Nations. Several countries formed aid committees. IDAF went international in 1965, with branches in Britain, New Zealand, Scandinavia, Holland and India. On March 18, 1966, the then Mister of Justice Johannes Vorster banned the South African Defence and Aid Committee as an 'unlawful organization' under the Suppression of Communism Act but IDAF continued to send aid through secret channels. Over a period of 25 years, £100 million was smuggled into South Africa. The organization also had an extensive research and publication operation. Canon Collins died in 1982 and Horst Kleinschmidt was named Director of IDAF that same year, a position he held until the organization closed. (See The Canon Collins Educational Trust Fund for Southern Africa)