Nelson Mandela


South African Nationalist leader Nelson Mandela (71) was released on February 11, from Victor Verstea prison, Paarl, 56 k.m. from Cape Town where he spent last 14 months of his imprisonment. He spent abut 27 years in prison. Mandela was arrested at the age of 44.

Mandela joined African National Congress in 1944 and helped to build its "Youth League". His commitment to democracy, non-racism and socialist oriented economy is unprecedented. After the release Mandela reaffirmed his commitment to ANC guerilla campaign whose inception in 1960 led to his imprisonment.

In 1960 police massacred 69 Africans at Sharpevilla and ANC was banned by white minority government of South Africa. Mandela set-up underground guerilla wing. After 17 months underground guerilla and political activities he was arrested on November 7, 1962.

Mandela was accused of organising protest against the constitution of South Africa and of printing and distributing literature inciting workers to strike. He was sentenced to three years imprisonment for inciting and two years for leaving the country without a passport. Nelson began his sentence in Pretoria prison then was taken to Robben Island and again brought to Pretoria Prison on June 12, 1963. He was kept in isolation for few months. He was not allowed to see visitors even his wife Winnie. A month later police raided ANC base in Rivonia and claimed to have unearthed documents, transmitter and other evidences. Nelson had to face new charges. The trial started on October 9, 1963. He was convicted in June 1964 and was awarded life imprisonment for allegedly plotting to overthrow the white minority rule.

For 20 years in notorious political prison of Robben Island, he was subjected to manual labour and had to break-up the boulders with hammer and to quarry limestone. In the late 70's he was offered conditional release which he refused.

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