On the morning of October 1, 1957, the atmosphere was tense. On that day, treason and rebellion against 156 drunkards, including me, was about to begin. We were all on trial for plotting to overthrow the government and paving the way for the establishment of a communist government through nationwide conspiracy and violence.
The long list of allegations included the events from October 1, 1952 to December 13, 1956. The Defiance Campaign and the Declaration of Rights Conference were important parts of the allegations.
The “Sofia Town” incident was also used against us, although in this oldest black settlement in Johannesburg, black property was destroyed from 1655 to 1660, looting and arson in their areas. And the unforgettable incidents of violence are a black mark on history. Sadly, we were the ones to be targeted and the culprits were also identified.
A military court was set up to hear the case, and Johannesburg’s vast “drill hall” was chosen for the proceedings, a hall never seen before.
The first hearing was on December 19. South Africa’s law of treason was not similar to English law. This law can be called a perverted form of Roman and Dutch law.
The definition of “treason” differed from European standards, but in the broadest sense, the loose interpretation of harming the state, becoming a threat, fell into the category of treason. Even minor offenses such as law and order could be considered treason, and the penalty was death. By law, in the first instance, the magistrate reviews the charges. In our case, Mr. FC Wessel has room for action.
There were Brahmins in the court. The magistrate’s voice was so low that none of us could hear him. The government ignored the need for microphones or loudspeakers. The atmosphere in the courtroom was no less than an entertainment venue, bustling and bustling, with food and drink allowed to be brought in from outside, as if everyone had gathered for entertainment.
It didn’t look like we were standing in court facing charges facing the death penalty. The proceedings were adjourned for two hours after the commotion, but these things still could not be found, so the next proceedings Postponed for the day.
The next day, the crowd outside the courtroom was even greater. 500 armed police were deployed, but the crowd was disturbed. Inside the courtroom was a large cage made of wires and pipes. It was our seat.
There were symbolic and psychological effects of the cage, but the main goal was to keep us away from our own lawyers, we could not even sit close to them, even if we talked to them sitting in the cage.
Stop all our lawyers outside the cage. Was taken A friend of mine misunderstood, wrote something in bold letters on paper and pasted it on the cage. What a good interpreter, it was written … “Dangerous … please, don’t give me anything to eat at all.” (This is usually recorded outside the animal cages in the zoo, inside the cage they were also presented as animals).
Our colleagues and organizations hired the best lawyers, Bram Fisher, Norman Rosenberg, Israel Michaels, Mars Frank, and Verman Beranji. No such names in the courtroom.
Had not passed One of our senior lawyers, Mars Frank, protested in court against this inhuman, degrading and fantastic arrangement, his voice echoing in the courtroom, saying, “The state is treating our clients like beasts.” Is”.
He bluntly warned the government, “If this cage is not removed, the entire cleaning team will walk out.”
The hearing was adjourned once again. The judge ordered the cage to be demolished, after which the proceedings became possible. Chief Prosecutor Mr. Van Niekerk began reading the 18,000-word case. There was a lot of noise outside the courtroom, songs were being played, and no sound could be heard.
Suddenly, a few police officers rushed outside when they heard gunshots لپکے۔ More shots were fired along with screams. 20 people were injured in the firing. The magistrate stopped the proceedings and met our lawyers. The hearing was adjourned again. (Excerpt from Nelson Mandela’s autobiography, The Long Walk to Freedom)