On 5 August 1962 Mandela was arrested after living on the run for seventeen months, and was imprisoned in the Johannesburg Fort. The arrest was made possible because the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) tipped off the security police as to Mandela's whereabouts and disguise. Three days later, the charges of leading workers to strike in 1961 and leaving the country illegally were read to him during a court appearance. On 25 October 1962, Mandela was sentenced to five years in prison. Two years later on 11 June 1964, a verdict had been reached concerning his previous engagement in the African National Congress (ANC).
While Mandela was imprisoned, police arrested prominent ANC leaders on 11 July 1963, at Liliesleaf Farm, Rivonia, north of Johannesburg. Mandela was brought in, and at the Rivonia Trial they were charged by the chief prosecutor Dr. Percy Yutar with the capital crimes of sabotage (which Mandela admitted) and crimes which were equivalent to treason, but easier for the government to prove. The second charge accused the defendants of plotting a foreign invasion of South Africa, which Mandela denied.
In his statement from the dock at the opening of the defence case in the trial on 20 April 1964 at Pretoria Supreme Court, Mandela laid out the reasoning in the ANC's choice to use violence as a tactic. His statement described how the ANC had used peaceful means to resist apartheid for years until the Sharpeville Massacre. That event coupled with the referendum establishing the Republic of South Africa and the declaration of a state of emergency along with the banning of the ANC made it clear to Mandela and his compatriots that their only choice was to resist through acts of sabotage and that doing otherwise would have been tantamount to unconditional surrender. Mandela went on to explain how they developed the Manifesto of Umkhonto we Sizwe on 16 December 1961 intent on exposing the failure of the National Party's policies after the economy would be threatened by foreigners' unwillingness to risk investing in the country. He closed his statement with these words:
“ During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to the struggle of the African people. 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. ”
Bram Fischer, Vernon Berrange, Harry Schwarz, Joel Joffe, Arthur Chaskalson and George Bizos were part of the defence team that represented the accused. Harold Hanson was brought in at the end of the case to plead mitigation. All except Rusty Bernstein were found guilty, but they escaped the gallows and were sentenced to life imprisonment on 12 June 1964. Charges included involvement in planning armed action, in particular four charges of sabotage, which Mandela admitted to, and a conspiracy to help other countries invade South Africa, which Mandela denied.
August 1962: On his return from military training outside the country, Mandela is arrested for leaving the country illegally and for incitement to strike. He conducted his own defence. He was convicted and jailed for five years in November 1962.
Although already serving a sentence, Mandela is brought to trial again along with other ANC leaders, and charged with sabotage and attempting to violently overthrow the government. Known as the Rivonia Trial, the accused escape execution, but the judge sentences them to life in prison. In the winter of 1964, Mandela and his comrades are sent to prison on Robben Island, a small island 7 km's off the coast of Cape Town.
On 5 August 1962, he was arrested after living on the run for seventeen months and was imprisoned in the Johannesburg Fort. According to William Blum, a former U.S. State Department employee, the CIA tipped off the police as to Mandela's whereabouts. On 25 October 1962, Mandela was sentenced to five years in prison.