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1956-1961, So. Africa Treason Trial (Mandela), Trial Transcripts
South Africa Treason Trial; Trial transcripts; One title, material received in mimeo from Columbia University Law Library; In 65 pressboard binders,
with continuous pagination, pp. 1-24912; Arranged online into ca. 50 “parts” of ca. 500-600 pp. each with natural breaks corresponding to court
adjournments and the like. This and three other “made up” titles grouped with it on LLMC-Digital comprise the papers generated during South Africa’s
celebrated “Treason Trial.” In December 1956 over 150 key members of the South Africa Congress Alliance (SACA), an anti-apartheid alliance of various civil
rights organizations, were arrested and charged with treason. The Alliance was led by Nelson Mandela and his colleagues in the African National
Congress, and the arrestees included almost the entire executive committee of the ANC. However, the South African Government was targeting the entire
spectrum of its civil rights opponents. In all, some 105 African, 7 coloured, and 23 white leaders were eventually brought to trial. They represented the
ANC, the South African Indian Congress, the South African Congress of Democrats, and, from the government’s viewpoint most importantly, the South
African Communist Party. All of the defendants were charged with high treason; specifically for “treasonable conspiracy to further international communism
by destroying the South African state.” In all of its phases the lengthy Treason Trial extended from Dec. 1956, to 29 March 1961. On the latter date,
the defendants, their core number having been winnowed down to 30, surprisingly were found “not guilty.” To a limited extent the results of the
Treason Trial signified a victory for the anti-apartheid cause in South Africa. Certainly it was no small matter that the defendants avoided possible death
sentences and regained their freedom. But the South African government was playing a much longer game. The middle 1950’s were the height of
McCarthyism in the United States. The country viewed itself as being in a struggle to the death with an insidious and worldwide communist menace. White
South Africa was auditioning for the role of major U.S. ally in Africa. Thus the main thrust of the prosecution’s case in the Treason Trial was to use the
SACA connection to taint all civil rights groups in South Africa, but in particular the ANC, with the communist brand. They largely succeeded. For
the next quarter century the United States found it useful to ignore apartheid and to work with, or at least tolerate, South Africa’s white leaders.
As late as 1981, with apartheid still in full force, Pres. Ronald Reagan was telling CBS that the U.S. supported the South African government because
it was a country that has stood by us in every war we’ve ever fought; a country that, strategically, is essential to the free world in its production
of minerals. Pres. Reagan’s antipathy to the ANC was long-lasting. In the middle 1980s, responding to widespread revulsion among Americans to the
excesses of the apartheid regime, Congress, even though it was then under Republican control, finally passed economic sanctions against the South African
regime. Reagan vetoed them. His veto was overridden by an alliance of Republicans and Democrats in Congress. The communist shibboleth attached to the
ANC during the Treason Trial has endured into our own times. During the week of memorial services for Mandela, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich
(hardly a fellow traveler) had the temerity to tweet a tribute to Nelson Mandela as one of the “greatest leaders of our lifetime.” He was immediately
assailed in tweet responses from a large number of his normally loyal troops for daring to eulogize, as one said, “a dirty communist.” The aftermath of
the Treason Trial brought on seminal change in the character of the ANC. Up to that time the movement had been squarely based in the Gandhian
principles of nonviolence. In the years immediately after the trial Mandela and the other leaders of the ANC came to the conclusion that the South African
regime was unalterably committed to its apartheid course and would never bend to the moral force of nonviolent resistance. The movement then adopted a
strategy of sabotage against property. While this tactic was preferable to one that targeted civilians, it brought the conflict to a substantially
higher level, and was enough to earn for the ANC the status of a terrorist organization in the eyes of the U.S. government. In 1963 the apartheid South
African Government returned to the attack in a trial in which the proceedings were aimed solely at the ANC. This time the charges were limited to the
more easily prosecuted offense of conspiracy to commit sabotage. Although the actual trial was held in the Palace of Justice in Pretoria, it got its
name from the suburb of Johannesburg where Mandela had lived undercover, and where 19 ANC leaders were arrested on 11 July 1963. The “Rivonia Trial”
extended from 26 Nov. 1963 to 12 June 1964. At the beginning of the defense proceedings, Mandela delivered a four hour long speech in which he explained
and defended the ANC’s political positions and its decision to go beyond non-violence to a campaign of sabotage against property. This speech included
the famous lines quoted by Pres. Obama at his memorial: I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have
cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I
hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die. As well he might have, since the prosecutors had
requested the death penalty. However, although Mandela and his associates were found guilty, perhaps in response to overwhelmingly supportive world
sentiment, they were only sentenced to life imprisonment. Because of “Rivonia,” Mandela spent 27 years in prison; the last 18 of them on Robben Island. He
was released by South Africa Pres. R.F. de Klerk on 11 February 1990. Just over four years later, on 10 May 1994, he was inaugurated as South Africa’s
first democratically elected president.
Title:   [Transcript of the trial of Nelson Mandela, 3rd August, 1959-10th November, 1959]
OCLC Number:   879211185
Available Volumes
NameFiche CountOnlinePaper Backup
Part 1, Pgs. 1-521YesNo
Part 2, Pgs. 522-1002YesNo
Part 3, Pgs. 1003-1514YesNo
Part 4, Pgs. 1515-2050YesNo
Part 5, Pgs. 2051-2584YesNo
Part 6, Pgs. 2585-3118YesNo
Part 7, Pgs. 3119-3647YesNo
Part 8, Pgs. 3648-4217YesNo
Part 9, Pgs. 4218-4771YesNo
Part 10, Pgs. 4772-5357YesNo
Part 11, Pgs. 5358-5891YesNo
Part 12, Pgs. 5892-6400YesNo
Part 13, Pgs. 6401-6878YesNo
Part 14, Pgs. 6879-7396YesNo
Part 15, Pgs. 7401-7920YesNo
Part 16, Pgs. 7921-8508YesNo
Part 17, Pgs. 8509-9004YesNo
Part 18, Pgs. 9005-9552YesNo
Part 19, Pgs. 9553-10008YesNo
Part 20 10009 - 10533YesNo
Part 21 10533 - 11000YesNo
Part 23 Pages 11401 - 11994YesNo
Part 24 11995 - 13413YesNo
Part 25 13414 - 13874YesNo
Part 26 13875 - 14154YesNo
Part 27 14155 - 14574YesNo
Part 28 14575 - 14914YesNo
Part 29 14915 - 15322YesNo
Part 30 15323 - 15736YesNo
Part 31 15737 - 16095YesNo
Part 32 16096 - 16543YesNo
Part 33 16544 - 17005YesNo
Part 34 17006 - 17284YesNo
Part 35 17285 - 17730YesNo
Part 36 17731 - 18107YesNo
Part 37 18108 - 18382YesNo
Part 38 18383 - 18678YesNo
Part 39 18679 - 19040YesNo
Part 40 19040 - 19406YesNo
Part 41 19467 - 19780YesNo
Part 42 19871 - 20132YesNo
Part 43 20132 - 20438YesNo
Part 44 20439 - 20837YesNo
Part 45 20841 - 21299YesNo
Part 46 21301 - 21697YesNo
Part 47 21698 - 21987YesNo
Part 48 21988 - 22420YesNo
Part 49 22421 - 22844YesNo
Part 50 22845 - 23254YesNo
Part 51 23255 - 23577YesNo
Part 52 23578 - 24049YesNo
Part 53 24050 - 24396YesNo
Part 54 24398 - 24912YesNo