Thursday, July 11, 2013

This Day in History: Jul 11,1963: Police raided Liliesleaf Farm and captured 19 ANC members



Liliesleaf Farm in northern Johannesburg, South Africa, was the farm used secretly by African National Congress activists in the 1960s and was the location where many prominent African National Congress leaders were arrested, leading to the Rivonia Trial. Nowadays Liliesleaf Farm is a Museum and world famous Heritage Site, attracting many visitors annually, and rated as a top "things to do in Johannesburg" site.


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In 1961, Lilliesleaf Farm in Rivonia was purchased by Arthur Goldreich and Harold Wolpe as headquarters for the underground Communist Party and a safe house for political fugitives. The purchase was made using South African Communist Party funds. Nelson Mandela needed a safe place from which to operate, and lived there under the assumed name of David Motsamayi as a worker in blue overalls employed by the owner to look after the farm.

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On 11 July 1963, security police raided the farm and captured 19 members of the underground, charging them with sabotage. They were meeting in the thatched room, and were stunned by the raid.

An out-house at the Liliesleaf farm, known as room number 4

 Lieutenant van Wyk and his team from the Special Branch search the lounge of the main house at Liliesleaf Farm, 11 July 1963
George Mellis, the young son of the owner of the Rivonia Caravan Park, which lay opposite the entrance to Winston Avenue leading to the farm, saw cars coming and going and people of various races meeting and greeting each other. In those days that was sufficiently unusual for him to tell his family, and a string of reports, coincidences and rumours, and an informer in the military wing, led to the police raid.
 

Nelson Mandela
Walter Sisulu
Dennis Goldberg
Govan Mbeki
Nelson Mandela
Walter Sisulu
Dennis Goldberg
Govan Mbeki
       
Arthur Goldreich*
James “Jimmy” Kantor
Lionel “Rusty” Bernstein
Harold Wolpe*
Arthur Goldreich*
James “Jimmy” Kantor
Lionel “Rusty” Bernstein
Harold Wolpe*
       
Andrew Mlangeni
Andrew Mlangeni
Ahmed Kathrada
Raymond Mhlaba
Andrew Mlangeni
Elias Motsoaledi
Ahmed Kathrada
Raymond Mhlaba
 *escaped before going to trial

The activists had already decided to move to another safe location, and this was to be the final meeting in the farmhouse. Nelson Mandela was already in prison, serving a sentence of several years for relatively minor offences, having been arrested the previous year. The police found documents during the raid incriminating Mandela. As a result he was charged and brought to trial with the others.

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A collection of photos from the Liliesleaf raid 50 years ago. Supplied by Liliesleaf.

The trial, which ran from October 1963 to June 1964, culminated in the imposition of life sentences for eight of the accused.
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A police photograph of Liliesleaf Farm

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Taken from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liliesleaf_Farm [11.07.2013]

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