1956 in South Africa
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- Monarch: Queen Elizabeth II.
- Governor-General and High Commissioner for Southern Africa: Ernest George Jansen.
- Prime Minister: Johannes Gerhardus Strijdom.
- Chief Justice: Albert van der Sandt Centlivres.
- 16 – The Riotous Assemblies Act no. 17 is passed, prohibiting any outside gathering that the Minister of Justice deems a threat to public peace.
- 17 – Mimi Coertse makes her Vienna State Opera debut as Queen of the Night in The Magic Flute (Mozart).
- 9 – Women march on the Union Buildings in Pretoria in protest against the pass laws.
- 5 – 156 leading activists are arrested, heralding the start of the Treason Trial. Among those arrested is Lillian Masediba Ngoyi.
- 19 – The Four year long Treason Trial begins at the Drill Hall in Johannesburg.
- Unknown date
- Lillian Masediba Ngoyi is elected president of the Federation of South African Women.
- Lillian Masediba Ngoyi becomes the first woman to be elected to the African National Congress National Executive Committee.
- Segregation is introduced on buses.
- Albert Lutuli is arrested.
- 31 January – Trevor Manuel, politician.
- 1 June – Mbongeni Ngema, writer, lyricist, composer and theater director.
- 1 September – Jeremy Baskin, trade unionist and labour market analyst.
- 16 December – Duncan Faure, musician, member of Rabbitt.