Statement by Oliver Tambo at Press Conference in Dar Es Salaam concerning sentences in the Rivonia Trial

From: Spotlight on South Africa, Dar es Salaam, Volume 2, No. 24, June 15, 1964

12 June 1964

Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Govan Mbeki, Ahmed Kathrada, Raymond Mhlaba, Andrew Mlangeni, Denis Goldberg and Elias Motsoaledi were today sentenced to life imprisonment in the Rivonia trial which since last year, has been the focal point of world attention.

The judge in the trial has done his duty to the white government which appointed him. The Rivonia leaders have done their duty to South Africa and all its people. They have done their duty to Africa and the world.

Those who opposed evil have been put away by the evildoers. The acknowledged leaders of 13 million people - men of incontestable integrity and character - have been proclaimed criminals at the instance of a handful of violent bloodsuckers and tyrants.

Let Nelson Mandela and his colleagues be assured that history will not let them down, nor will it fail to punish the real criminals. Their committal to South Africa`s brutal jails is a challenge to the liberation movement and the people they led. It is a challenge to their colleagues and brothers, the leaders and people of Africa. It is a challenge to the world which denounced the Rivonia trial as arbitrary and demanded the release of all political prisoners and the immediate abandonment of the policy of white domination.

The African National Congress will not rest before this challenge has been fittingly answered. There shall be no peace before our people take full control of the destiny and future of their country and motherland. And since in South Africa moderation and reason leads only to Verwoerd`s death cells and torture chambers, then moderation and reason must take leave of the South African situation.

We salute the heroes of Rivonia. Their imprisonment is not the end of the liberation struggle or of resistance to tyranny; it is the beginning of a new and decisive phase in that struggle - a phase which will embroil the continent of Africa and destroy the foundations of international peace.

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