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Under South Africa's Apartheid laws people, meetings, organisations, and publications could be banned. Originating in an amendment to the 1929 Riotous Assemblies Act, and extended by the 1950 Suppression of Communism Act, the South African government had wide powers to restrict the movement and associations of its citizens.

A typical banning order would restrict an individual to a particular magisterial district, require them to report regularly to the police, prevent them from associating with more than one person at any time (including family members), and prevent them visiting various public places and educational institutions. Additionally, nothing the banned person said or wrote could be quoted in the press or used for publication. There was no avenue for appeal against a banning order.

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