June 12, 1964 – Nelson Mandela Sentenced to Life in Prison

On this day in history, the leader of the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa – Nelson Mandela, was sentenced to life in prison for sabotage.

Nelson Mandela at the time of his sentencing

Nelson Mandela at the time of his sentencing

Seven other defendants, including Walter Sisulu, the former secretary-general of the banned African National Congress (ANC), were also given life prison sentences.

Mandela – a lawyer by training – told the court:

I do not deny that I planned sabotage. I did not plan it in a spirit of recklessness nor because I have any love of violence. I planned it as a result of a calm and sober assessment of the political situation that had arisen after many years of tyranny, exploitation and oppression of my people by the whites.”

But the judge, President Quartus de Wet, said he believed ambition rather than altruism was behind the struggle allegedly for civil rights. Fortunately, however, he stopped short of the imposing the supreme penalty of death.

Mandela was released in 1990, jointly awarded the Nobel peace prize with President FW de Klerk in 1993 and elected South Africa’s president in the country’s first multi-racial elections held in 1994.

Nelson and Winnie Mandela give a clenched fist salute as the ANC leader is released from prison on 11 February 1990. Photograph: Reuters

Nelson and Winnie Mandela give a clenched fist salute as the ANC leader is released from prison on 11 February 1990. Photograph: Reuters

In 1999, at the age of 80, Mandela officially retired after just one term in office. He would go on to found the Nelson Mandela Foundation, and continue humanitarian work across the globe. Mandela died at his home in Johannesburg on December 5, 2013.

You can read more about Mandela’s life here.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: