SA to mark 48th anniversary arrest of Madiba

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Pretoria - As part of the 48th anniversary arrest of South Africa's first democratic President, Nelson Mandela, on Thursday, his Foundation is urging residents to acknowledge the sacrifices of all people who brought freedom to the country.

Information and Communication manager at the Nelson Mandela Foundation, Sello Hatang said: "As we mark the 48th anniversary of Nelson Mandela's arrest we would like to reiterate our call that to acknowledge the sacrifices of all those who brought about freedom in our country, people should try to make every day a Mandela Day."

Nelson Mandela Day is a day of public service when the public are encouraged to do something good for at least 67 minutes in honour of the 67 years that Madiba dedicated to the public service.

Mandela was arrested soon after returning from a six-month clandestine trip through Africa and to London on August 5, 1962, where he garnered support for the African National Congress' armed wing Umkhonto weSizwe.

On arrival from his trip, he was picked up in Botswana by fellow activist Cecil Williams. Mandela reported on his trip to comrades in KwaZulu-Natal, and on his way back to Johannesburg on Sunday 5 August 1962 with Williams, they were stopped by the police and Mandela was taken into custody.

He was charged with leaving the country without a passport and inciting workers to strike. He went on trial at the Old Synagogue in Pretoria on 15 October 1962.

The charges related to him leaving the country without a passport in January 1962 and calling on workers to strike on 29, 30 and 31 May 1961 against the proclamation of South Africa as a Republic.

This action followed two unanswered letters to Prime Minister HF Verwoerd in which Mandela called on him to establish a non-racial National Convention to draw up a new constitution for South Africa.

In what became known as his "Black man in a white man's court" speech, Madiba said: "Whatever sentence Your Worship sees fit to impose upon me for the crime for which I have been convicted before this court, may it rest assured that when my sentence has been completed I will still be moved, as men are always moved, by their consciences; I will still be moved by my dislike of the race discrimination against my people when I come out from serving my sentence, to take up again, as best I can, the struggle for the removal of those injustices until they are finally abolished once and for all."

On 7 November, 1962, he was sentenced to five years imprisonment. Williams left the country and died in England in 1979.

Initially held in Pretoria, Mandela was moved to Robben Island in May 1963 and then suddenly returned to Pretoria.

Few weeks later the police raided Liliesleaf Farm in Rivonia and arrested his comrades. They stood trial for sabotage in what became known as the 'Rivonia Trial' and on 11 June 1964 Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Ahmed Kathrada, Raymond Mhlaba, Denis Goldberg, Govan Mbeki, Andrew Mlangeni and Elias Motsoaledi were convicted.

The next day they were all sentenced to life imprisonment. All were sent to Robben Island except Denis Goldberg who could not be held there because he was white.

Goldberg was released in 1985; Mbeki in 1987; while Sisulu; Kathrada; Mlangeni; Mhlaba and Motsoaledi were released in 1989.

Mandela was released from Victor Verster Prison in 1990 after serving 27 years, six months and five days.