A militant organization formed in 1951 to oppose the National Party government, especially in its attempts to disenfranchise ‘coloured’ voters. Also attributive.
Hence colloquialTorchienoun [English (informal) noun-forming suffix -ie], a member of this organization.
Led by world war veterans, the organization was active until 1953.
1951Sun (Baltimore, U.S.A.) 9 Nov. 13South Africa’s Torch Commando, an organization of war veterans pledged to uphold the Dominion Constitution, is building up into a potent opposition to Prime Minister Daniel F. Malan’s Nationalist Government.
1952Star 3 May 1In a statement by the National executive of the Torch Commando today, the Prime Minister, Dr. Malan, was asked on what grounds he had made the ‘damaging allegations against the Torch Commando and its leaders’ in his speech..last night.
1953Rand Daily Mail 14 May 1A hint that the Torch Commando might be remobilised on an all-party basis to fight the Senate Bill was given yesterday by Mr John Wilson, one of the ‘big-five’ of the leadership.
1956G.F. van L. Froneman inM. RogersBlack Sash 86The Torch Commando,..hailed as the determined, resolute, brave and incorruptible defender of our Constitution, a movement to save South Africa out of the bloody talons of these desecrators, the National Party.
1958G. CarterPolitics of Inequality 304Beginning with a knot of people at the time when the Nationalists decided to take the Coloured off the common roll..the Torch Commando included nearly a quarter of a million members at its height late in 1952.
1967E. RosenthalEncycl. of Sn Afr. 563It took its name from torches carried by participants in its spectacular early processions. The objects of the Torch Commando were largely those of the United Party. Its activities came to an end about 1953.
1974Std Encycl. of Sn Afr.X. 525Before the formation of the Torch Commando, as it was popularly called, other attempts were made to organise ex-servicemen into opposition movements.
1991A. Van WykBirth of New Afrikaner 72The Torchies were a vociferous and near-militant English-dominated pressure group which rapidly gained mass support...Torch Commando meetings almost automatically turned rowdy, with fisticuffs the rule rather than the exception.
1993P. Bell inLeadershipVol.12No.2, 82The Torch Commando in Natal directed its appeal, not at the preservation of coloured voting rights as elsewhere in the country, but at the preservation of English political power and culture in the province.
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