Ivan Toms (11 July 1952 – 25 March 2008) was a South African physician, who battled the Apartheid era government as a prominent anti-Apartheid and anti-conscription activist. At the time of his death in 2008, Toms was serving as the Director of Health for the city of Cape Town, South Africa.
South Africa, officially the Republic of South Africa (RSA), is the southernmost country in Africa. It is bounded to the south by 2,798 kilometres (1,739 mi) of coastline of Southern Africa stretching along the South Atlantic and Indian Oceans; to the north by the neighbouring countries of Namibia, Botswana, and Zimbabwe; and to the east and northeast by Mozambique and Eswatini (Swaziland); and it surrounds the enclaved country of Lesotho. South Africa is the largest country in Southern Africa and the 25th-largest country in the world by land area and, with over 57 million people, is the world's 24th-most populous nation. It is the southernmost country on the mainland of the Old World or the Eastern Hemisphere. About 80 percent of South Africans are of Sub-Saharan African ancestry, divided among a variety of ethnic groups speaking different African languages, nine of which have official status. The remaining population consists of Africa's largest communities of European (White), Asian (Indian), and multiracial (Coloured) ancestry.
A physician, medical practitioner, medical doctor, or simply doctor, is a professional who practises medicine, which is concerned with promoting, maintaining, or restoring health through the study, diagnosis, prognosis and treatment of disease, injury, and other physical and mental impairments. Physicians may focus their practice on certain disease categories, types of patients, and methods of treatment—known as specialities—or they may assume responsibility for the provision of continuing and comprehensive medical care to individuals, families, and communities—known as general practice. Medical practice properly requires both a detailed knowledge of the academic disciplines, such as anatomy and physiology, underlying diseases and their treatment—the science of medicine—and also a decent competence in its applied practice—the art or craft of medicine.
Apartheid was a system of institutionalised racial segregation that existed in South Africa from 1948 until the early 1990s. Apartheid was characterised by an authoritarian political culture based on baasskap, which encouraged state repression of Black African, Coloured, and Asian South Africans for the benefit of the nation's minority white population. The economic legacy and social effects of apartheid continue to the present day.
Ivan Toms was born in Cape Town on 11 July 1952.He received his medical degree from the University of Cape Town in 1976.
A Doctor of Medicine is a medical degree, the meaning of which varies between different jurisdictions. In the United States, Canada and other countries, the MD denotes a professional graduate degree awarded upon graduation from medical school. In the United Kingdom, Ireland and other countries, the MD is a research doctorate, higher doctorate, honorary doctorate or applied clinical degree restricted to those who already hold a professional degree in medicine; in those countries, the equivalent professional degree is typically titled Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS).
The University of Cape Town (UCT) is a public research university located in Cape Town in the Western Cape province of South Africa. UCT was founded in 1829 as the South African College making it the oldest higher education institute in South Africa. It is jointly the oldest university in South Africa and the oldest extant university in Sub-Saharan Africa alongside Stellenbosch University which received full university status on the same day in 1918.
Ivan attended Glenwood High School in Durban from 1965 to 1969. He was deputy Head Prefect in 1969. A eulogy to Ivan can be found at: https://web.archive.org/web/20160916112842/http://www.glenwoodhighschool.co.za/node/3493.
Toms was drafted into the national service in the South African Defence Force (SADF), as a non-combatant doctor in 1978.He opposed the goals of the SADF, but refused to leave South Africa. He spent much of his six months as a doctor in Namibia, which was then known as South West Africa and was controlled by South Africa.
National service is a system of either compulsory or voluntary government service, usually military service. Conscription is mandatory national service. The term national service comes from the United Kingdom's National Service Act 1939. Many young people spent one or more years in such programmes. Compulsory military service typically requires all male citizens to enroll for one or two years, usually at age 18, while voluntary national service requires only three months of basic military training. The US equivalent is Selective Service. In the United States, voluntary enrollments at the Peace Corps and AmeriCorps are also known as national service.
The South African Defence Force (SADF) comprised the South African armed forces from 1957 until 1994. Shortly before the state reconstituted itself as a republic in 1961, the former Union Defence Force was officially succeeded by the SADF, which was established by the Defence Act of 1957. The SADF, in turn, was superseded by the South African National Defence Force in 1994.
Non-combatant is a term of art in the law of war and international humanitarian law, describing civilians who are not taking a direct part in hostilities; persons—such as combat medics and military chaplains—who are members of the belligerent armed forces but are protected because of their specific duties ; combatants who are placed hors de combat; and neutral persons not involved in fighting for one of the belligerents involved in a war. This particular status was first recognized under the Geneva Conventions with the First Geneva Convention of 1864.
Once he returned to Cape Town, Toms set up a medical clinic in the squatter settlement of Crossroads, which is located about 15 km outside of the city in the Cape Flats area.He was the only doctor who served the Crossroads' population of approximately 60,000 people. In September 1983, Toms witnessed a three-week-long confrontation between the Crossroads community and the South African police and security forces, who were trying to tear down "illegal" buildings in the settlement. After witnessing the violence and brutality of the raid, Toms vowed never to serve in the SADF again, even in a non-combatant capacity. He went public with his opinions on what he had witnessed and became a founding member of the End Conscription Campaign (ECC) in 1983. Toms' co-founders of the ECC included other prominent anti-conscription activists including Nan Cross.
The Cape Flats is an expansive, low-lying, flat area situated to the southeast of the central business district of Cape Town. To many people in Cape Town, the area is known simply as "The Flats".
The End Conscription Campaign was an anti-apartheid organisation allied to the United Democratic Front (UDF) and composed of conscientious objectors and their supporters in South Africa. It was formed in 1983 to oppose the conscription of all white South African men into military service in the South African Defence Force.
Nan Cross was a South African anti-apartheid and anti-conscription activist.
Toms went on a three-week-long hunger strike in February 1985 to protest the government's decision to bulldoze the Crossroads shanty town.The destruction of Crossroads resulted in violence and the deaths of several people as residents tried to resist the destruction. Toms commented during his hunger strike that, "As a Christian, I am obliged to say no, to say never again will I put on that SADF uniform."
A hunger strike is a method of non-violent resistance or pressure in which participants fast as an act of political protest, or to provoke feelings of guilt in others, usually with the objective to achieve a specific goal, such as a policy change. Most hunger strikers will take liquids but not solid food.
A shanty town or squatter area is a settlement of improvised housing which is known as shanties or shacks, made of plywood, corrugated metal, sheets of plastic, and cardboard boxes. Such settlements are usually found on the periphery of cities, in public parks, or near railroad tracks, rivers, lagoons or city trash dump sites. Sometimes called a squatter, or spontaneous settlement, a typical shanty town often lacks adequate infrastructure, including proper sanitation, safe water supply, electricity, hygienic streets, or other basic necessities to support human settlements.
Christians are people who follow or adhere to Christianity, a monotheistic Abrahamic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. The words Christ and Christian derive from the Koine Greek title Christós (Χριστός), a translation of the Biblical Hebrew term mashiach (מָשִׁיחַ).
The SADF officially took control of Toms' health clinic in 1986.The following year, in July 1987, Toms defied the SADF when he was called up for one month of compulsory service. He was sentenced to 21 months in prison in 1988 for defying the order and ultimately served nine months in Pollsmoor Prison.
Ivan Toms became the national co-ordinator of the National Progressive Primary Healthcare Network in 1991 at the end of the Apartheid era.The AIDS virus was beginning to sweep through South Africa at the time. Toms, as the national co-ordinator, began to implement a series of programs to combat the spread of AIDS and HIV in the country. He was considered a pioneer in the advocacy of the use of antiretroviral drugs to fight the disease. He became director of the Students' Health and Welfare Centres Organisation in 1993, which is a non-governmental organization which runs medical clinics staffed by students in poor areas. He continued to work for non-governmental charities until 1996, when he became the Health Director in the City of Cape Town. His name is remembered in the Ivan Toms Centre for Men's Health (Cape Town) in Greenpoint, Cape Town, which works in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of sexually transmitted infections.
South African President Thabo Mbeki awarded Ivan Toms with the Order of the Baobab in 2006 for his stance against Apartheid and his public service for South Africans in need.
Ivan Toms died unexpectedly of meningitis at his home in Mowbray on 25 March 2008, at the age of 54.He was honored by prominent South African political figures, including Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu and the Mayor of Cape Town, Helen Zille. Archbishop Tutu described himself as "devastated" by the news of Toms' death and paid tribute to him saying, "I thank God that I knew him. Knowing him makes (one) feel proud. This is a prime example of someone who had ubuntu. He was utterly selfless." His funeral, which was attended by hundreds of people including Archbishop Tutu, was held at St. George's Cathedral in Cape Town.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) was a court-like restorative justice body assembled in South Africa after the end of apartheid. Witnesses who were identified as victims of gross human rights violations were invited to give statements about their experiences, and some were selected for public hearings. Perpetrators of violence could also give testimony and request amnesty from both civil and criminal prosecution.
Pieter Willem Botha,, commonly known as "P. W." and Die Groot Krokodil, was the leader of South Africa from 1978 to 1989, serving as the last Prime Minister from 1978 to 1984 and the first executive State President from 1984 to 1989.
Mamphela Aletta Ramphele is a South African politician, a former activist against apartheid, a medical doctor, an academic and businesswoman. She was a partner of anti-apartheid activist Steve Biko, with whom she had two children. She is a former Vice-Chancellor at the University of Cape Town and a one-time Managing Director at the World Bank. Ramphele founded political party Agang South Africa in February 2013 and withdrew from politics in July 2014 after disputes within the party.
Rhodes University is a public research university located in Grahamstown in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa. It is one of four universities in the province. Established in 1904, Rhodes University is the province's oldest university, and it is the fifth or sixth oldest South African university in continuous operation, being preceded by the University of the Free State (1904), University of Witwatersrand (1896), Stellenbosch University (1866) and the University of Cape Town (1829). Rhodes was founded in 1904 as Rhodes University College, named after Cecil Rhodes, through a grant from the Rhodes Trust. It became a constituent college of the University of South Africa in 1918 before becoming an independent university in 1951.
Ernest Urban Trevor Huddleston was an English Anglican bishop. He was the Bishop of Stepney in London before becoming the second Archbishop of the Church of the Province of the Indian Ocean. He was best known for his anti-apartheid activism and his book Naught for Your Comfort.
Allan Aubrey Boesak is a South African Dutch Reformed Church cleric and politician and anti-apartheid activist. He was sentenced to prison for fraud in 1999 but was subsequently granted an official pardon and reinstated as a cleric in late 2004.
Masiphumelele is a township in Cape Town, South Africa, situated between Kommetjie, Capri Village and Noordhoek.
On 13 September 1989, 30 000 Capetonians from a diverse cross-section of the city marched in support of peace and the end of apartheid. The event, led by Mayor Gordon Oliver, Archbishop Tutu, Rev Frank Chikane, Moulana Farid Esack, Allan Boesak, and other religious leaders, was held in defiance of the State of Emergency which banned political protests and apartheid laws which enforced racial segregation. The march resulted in concessions from the apartheid cabinet headed by FW de Klerk, following years of violent clashes between anti-apartheid protestors and the police, and was the first such event to include elected world government functionaries. It was considered the "last illegal march" at the time, and went ahead without major confrontation. The size of the protest, despite the open defiance, and the restrained response from the police signalled the beginning of the transition to democracy.
Joost de Blank was the Archbishop of Cape Town, South Africa from 1957 to 1963 and was known as the "scourge of apartheid" for his ardent opposition to the whites-only policies of the South African government.
Njongonkulu Winston Hugh Ndungane is a retired South African Anglican bishop and a former prisoner on Robben Island. He was the Bishop of Kimberley and Kuruman and Archbishop of Cape Town.
Desmond Mpilo Tutu is a South African Anglican cleric and theologian known for his work as an anti-apartheid and human rights activist. He was the Bishop of Johannesburg from 1985 to 1986 and then the Archbishop of Cape Town from 1986 to 1996, in both cases being the first black African to hold the position. Theologically, he sought to fuse ideas from black theology with African theology; politically, he identifies as a socialist.
The South African Civil Cooperation Bureau (CCB) was a government-sponsored death squad during the apartheid era that operated under the authority of Defence Minister General Magnus Malan. The Truth and Reconciliation Committee pronounced the CCB guilty of numerous killings, and suspected more killings.
Philip Welsford Richmond Russell, was a South African Anglican bishop.
The Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation (DTHF) is a nonprofit organization founded to provide treatment for and conduct HIV/AIDS research. It is based in Cape Town, South Africa and is managed with the Desmond Tutu HIV Centre at the University of Cape Town. The Foundation operates community sites throughout greater Cape Town, providing treatment, testing, and outreach services to at-risk communities.
Alexander Lionel Boraine was a South African politician, minister of religion and anti-apartheid activist.
Peter Alan Krummeck was a South African actor, theatre designer, director, writer, teacher, and activist, who won renown beyond South Africa in his one-man play Bonhoeffer. Pioneering the use of drama as a tool for reconciliation, he founded the African Community Theatre Service with Archbishop Desmond Tutu as patron.
The Forgiven is a 2017 British drama film directed by Roland Joffé and based on the play The Archbishop and the Antichrist by Michael Ashton, that tells a story involving Archbishop Desmond Tutu's search for answers during the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and his meetings with the fictional character Piet Blomfeld.