Rivonia Trial

The Rivonia Trial was a trial that took place in South Africa between 1963 and 1964, in which ten leaders of the African National Congress were tried for 221 acts of sabotage designed to overthrow the apartheid system.

It was named after Rivonia, the suburb of Johannesburg where 19 ANC leaders were arrested at Liliesleaf Farm, privately owned by Arthur Goldreich, on 11 July 1963. It had been used as a hideout for the African National Congress. Among others, Nelson Mandela had moved onto the farm in October 1961 and evaded security police while masquerading as a gardener and cook called David Motsamayi (meaning "the walker").

Charges were:
recruiting persons for training in the preparation and use of explosives and in guerrilla warfare for the purpose of violent revolution and committing acts of sabotage
conspiring to commit the aforementioned acts and to aid foreign military units when they invaded the Republic,
acting in these ways to further the objects of communism
soliciting and receiving money for these purposes from sympathizers in Algeria, Ethiopia, Liberia, Nigeria, Tunisia, and elsewhere.
"Production requirements" for munitions for a six-month period were sufficient, the prosecutor Percy Yutar said in his opening address, to blow up a city the size of Johannesburg.
Kantor was discharged at the end of the prosecution's case.
The trial was condemned by the United Nations Security Council and nations around the world, leading to international sanctions against the South African government in some cases.

Originally the death penalty had been requested, but was changed because of world-wide protests and skilled legal maneuvers on the part of the defence team. Harold Hanson was called upon to argue in mitigation. He compared the African struggle for rights to the earlier Afrikaans struggle, citing precedents for temperate sentencing, even in cases of treason. Eight defendants were sentenced to life imprisonment; Lionel Bernstein was acquitted.
[1] "There was no surprise in the fact that Mandela, Sisulu, Mbeki, Motsoaledi, Mlangeni, and Goldberg were found guilty on all four counts. The defense had hoped that Mhlaba, Kathrada, and Bernstein might escape conviction because of the skimpiness of evidence that they were parties to the conspiracy, although undoubtedly they could be prosecuted on other charges. But Mhlaba too was found guilty on all counts, and Kathrada, on one charge of conspiracy. Bernstein, however, was found not guilty. He was rearrested, released on bail, and placed under house arrest. Later he fled the country."
Denis Goldberg went to Pretoria Central Prison instead of Robben Island (at that time the only security wing for white political prisoners in South Africa) where he served 22 years.
Nelson Mandela would spend nearly thirty years in prison as a result of the trial. He was released on 11 February 1990 by President F.W. de Klerk.

The Rivonia Trial, named after the suburb of Johannesburg where sixteen leaders of the African National Congress had been arrested in July 1963, began on 26 November 1963.
Mandela and his fellow defendants were charged with 221 acts of sabotage designed to "ferment violent revolution".

The ANC had been operating underground since being outlawed in April 1960, one month after the Sharpeville Massacre of 67 protestors by police. The police had collected hundreds of documents from the ANC hideout at Rivonia about Operation Mayibuye (Operation Comeback).

Under the new General Law Amendment (Sabotage) Act of 1962 and the Suppression of Communism Act, the defendants faced the threat of the death penalty.

Mandela had a growing international reputation and the ANC sought to use the trial to win worldwide support and attention, hence Mandela's speech from the dock on April 20th which was delivered from his handwritten script.