Nelson Mandela - Raid at Liliesleaf Farm

On the 11th of July, 1963, the police decided to raid Liliesleaf Farm.  Their objective was to capture Water Sisulu, Nelson Mandela's long-time friend and mentor. 

An unexpected event happened that afternoon, however. 

Sisulu was not the only resistance leader at the farm.  Several other key ANC personnel were also there, including Nelson Mandela.

In an ironic twist of fate, the leaders had already decided this would be their last meeting at the farm. 

Things were getting too dangerous - among other reasons, the government had banned the ANC - and they were concerned that authorities knew where to find them (and their MK headquarters).

The Liliesleaf web site provides more background on the police raid which ultimately sent Mandela to prison for nearly three decades:

It was decided that the 11th July 1963 would be the last time they would meet at Liliesleaf. The leadership had been worried for some time that Liliesleaf could be exposed and such it was felt necessary to close operations and move to another farm.

The meeting on the 11th was to discuss Operation Mayibuye, the plan to overthrow the Apartheid Government. The plan had been originated by Govan Mbeki and Joe Slovo, and so secret was this plan that only Nelson Mandela and a handful of his colleagues in the armed wing of the ANC knew of it.

However, the decision to move to another location had been made too late. South African Police had already received a tip-off that Walter Sisulu would be at Liliesleaf. Walter Sisulu had gone into hiding as result of a previous conviction, and was facing a five-year jail term.

On the afternoon of the 11th July, 1963, a dry-cleaning and flower van drove down the dusty farm drive way and stopped just past the Manor and slightly back from the Thatched Cottage. Someone in the Thatched Cottage had just opened the thatched cottage door and noticed the vans. As he was about to ask one of the farm labourers about the vehicles, armed policemen burst out of the vans, and from that moment, the word "Rivonia" became synonymous around the world with the silencing of resistance in South Africa.

In the thatched cottage, the police had found a number of senior leaders of the resistance, as well as the document outlining Operation Mayibuye, the resistance movement’s plan for guerrilla warfare in South Africa. All the men were arrested.

The police raid on Liliesleaf Farm on the July 11th, 1963 was critical. The arrest of so many senior ANC leaders was a major blow to the movement and the struggle for liberation. However, the subsequent trial, which became known to the world as the Rivonia Trial, finally focused world scrutiny on South Africa and its oppressive regime.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5183stories and lessons created

Original Release: Oct 07, 2013

Updated Last Revision: Nov 20, 2019

Media Credits

Video by Liliesleaf Farm personnel, online courtesy YouTube.


To cite this story (For MLA citation guidance see easybib or OWL ):

"Nelson Mandela - Raid at Liliesleaf Farm" AwesomeStories.com. Oct 07, 2013. Nov 20, 2019.
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