1961 in South Africa
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- Monarch: Queen Elizabeth II (until 31 May)
- Governor-General: Charles Robberts Swart (until 30 April).
- State President: Charles Robberts Swart (from 31 May).
- Prime Minister: Hendrik Verwoerd.
- Chief Justice: Lucas Cornelius Steyn.
- 14 – Decimal Day - Decimalisation of currency replaces the South African pound with the South African rand.
- 15 – South Africa announces its intended withdrawal from the Commonwealth upon becoming a republic.
- The International Confederation of Free Trade Unions submits a memorandum to the United Nations General Assembly calling for economic sanctions against South Africa.
- 31 – South Africa becomes a republic, and temporarily withdraws from the Commonwealth.
- 31 – Charles Robberts Swart is sworn in as the first State President of South Africa.
- 4 – The Iraqi Foreign Minister, Hassim Jawad, announces that Iraq will not recognise the South African government because of its apartheid policy.
- The National Party wins the South African election, winning 105 of 160 seats in Parliament.
- The Nobel Peace Prize is awarded to the president of the African National Congress, Dr Albert Lutuli.
- 16 – Umkhonto we Sizwe commences its sabotage campaign with a bomb attack on the Durban office of the Department of Bantu Administration and Development.
- Unknown date
- Eendrag Men's Residence opens its doors to students of Stellenbosch University.
- Mimi Coertse is awarded the Medal of Honour of Die Suid-Afrikaanse Akademie vir Wetenskap en Kuns.
- The Department of Indian Affairs is established.
- South Korea establishes diplomatic relations with South Africa. Diplomatic relations would last until 1978, when South Korea withdrew its recognition in protest of apartheid. They would not be restored thereafter until December 1992.
- 1 February – Jeremy Maggs, journalist, radio host and television presenter.
- 4 March – Roger Wessels, golfer.
- 10 April – Tian Viljoen, tennis player.
- 16 April – Schalk van der Merwe, tennis player. (d. 2016)
- 1 May – Christo Steyn, tennis player.
- 23 June – Ivan Wingreen, cricketer. (d. 2014)
- 30 August – Brian Mitchell, boxer.
- 6 September – Adolf Malan, rugby player.
- 28 September – Wayne Westner, golfer. (d. 2017)
- 10 October – Jonathan Butler, singer-songwriter and guitarist.
- 14 October – Kevin Moir, tennis player.
- 5 December – Ada Booyens, race walker.
- 4 August - John Hewitt, zoologist and archaeologist (b. 1880)
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- Archontology.org: A Guide for Study of Historical Offices: South Africa: Governors-General: 1910-1961 (Accessed on 14 April 2017)
- Archontology.org: A Guide for Study of Historical Offices: South Africa: Heads of State: 1961-1994 (Accessed on 14 April 2017)
- Heffermann, Lutz (1997). The South African Stamp Colour Catalogue (21st ed.). Lutz Heffermann, Johannesburg. p. 58.
- Jeffery, Anthea (2009). People's War - New Light on the Struggle for South Africa (1st ed.). Johannesburg & Cape Town: Jonathan Ball Publishers. p. 4. ISBN 978-1-86842-357-6.
- Korea, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Republic of. "Countries and Regions > Middle East and Africa > List of the Countries".
- "South Korea-South Africa Relations" (PDF). The Embassy of the Republic of Korea to the Republic of South Africa. 6 April 2015. Retrieved 7 October 2016.