Nelson Mandela Timeline 1960-1969

21 March, The Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) mounted its anti-pass campaign. Police at Sharpeville opened fire on peaceful protesters killing sixty-nine and injuring 180. In the Western Cape, police opened fire and kill two people. The PAC retaliates by calling for a work stoppage that lasted for two weeks. Ninety five percent of the workforce went into strike. PAC youth took control of the Cape Town townships of Langa and Nyanga, setting up roadblocks and distributing food. 30 000 residents of the Black townships of Cape Town march on Caledon Square, led by Philip Kgosana, but the march is thwarted when Kgosana was tricked into calling it off on. He was promised, by police chief Colonel Terreblanche, the opportunity to meet with the Minister of Justice. Instead the state called in the military, the townships were cordoned off and the situation is brought under martial control. A state of emergency was declared, thousands were arrested throughout the country and the African National Congress (ANC) and PAC were declared banned organisations. Mandela was amongst those imprisoned.
28 March, Mandela burnt his passbook before an audience of journalists
7 June, The Foreign Office of London opened a file on Mandela after he is interviewed for television for the first, and last time for nearly thirty years, and he announced that the ANC is “closing a chapter on [the] question of non-violent policy”
December, Mandela attended an underground meeting of the central committee of the SACP national conference in Johannesburg.
The African National Congress (ANC) and the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) established religious and welfare front organisations to hide behind. ANC and South African Communist Party (SACP) members set up the armed wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK). There was a strict undertaking that life would not be endangered and only installations will be attacked. A central high command, with regional commands, was set up under the direction of Mandela. The first explosion occured on 16 December in Durban, followed by explosions in Johannesburg and Cape Town. The president general of the ANC, Chief Albert Luthuli, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize a week before the first explosion went off. Zindziswa was born to Nelson and Winnie Madikizela Mandela.
29 March,The state failed to prove that the ANC or the Freedom Charter were communist and thus all accused (including Mandela) were acquitted of treason.
26 June, While underground, Nelson Mandela wrote a letter in which he stated his famous words, "The struggle is my life. I will continue fighting for freedom until the end of my days."
16 December, MK made its first appearance with explosions in Johannesburg, Port Elizabeth and Durban on government offices and an electrical transformer. There targets were chosen to avoid loss of human life or injury. 16 December was then known as Dingane’s Day””the commemoration date of the Afrikaners’ massacre of Zulus in 1813.
There were Poqo uprisings in the Eastern Cape that resulted in a number of vicious killings, particularly of Whites.
9 January, Mandela left South Africa and arrived in Botswana (known then as Bechuanaland). The purpose of his trip was to rally support for the armed struggle.
21 January, Mandela arrived in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania to get support for the armed struggle.
22 January, Mandela and his colleagues decided that ANC matters should be dealt with by the ANC and not by friends of the ANC, no matter how ‘supportive’ they were.
January, Mandela was smuggled out of the country. He attended the Pan-African Freedom Conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, that was hosted by Oliver Tambo, and addressed the Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie. Mandela canvassed support in north and west African countries, met Col. Boumedienne of Algeria, Commander in Chief of the army of National Liberation, and undergoes training in demolition and mortar firing and attends army lectures. He meets Julius Nyerere, Kenneth Kaunda and Oginga Odinga, the opposition leader in Kenya. He then flew to Britain where he met Hugh Gaitskell and Jo Grimond, Labour and Liberal Party leaders. Winnie Mandela was banned for two years. Mandela returned to South Africa, and was met at the border and driven to Johannesburg. The Congress of Democrats is banned. Mandela visited Chief Albert Luthuli on his return to Johannesburg whilst disguised as a chauffeur.
24 July, Mandela returned to South Africa through Botswana and drove to Liliesleaf Farm. The ANC’s working committee discussed fuure strategy. He also travelled to Natal to report back on the financial and military support he had gained during his Africa trip to ANC President Chief Albert Luthuli and comrades.
5 August, Mandela was arrested, 17 months after going underground, near Howick, Kwazulu-Natal after a tip-off by informers.
13 October, Mandela attends his first day of court in a traditional Xhosa leopard-skin kaross.
7 November, Mandela is sentenced to five years imprisonment for incitement to strike and leaving the country without a passport. He was held for six months in Pretoria prison and then transferred to Robben Island.
January, Police raided Lilliesleaf farm in Rivonia outside Johannesburg and arrested the nucleus of Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) leadership. Albertina Sisulu and Caroline Motsoaledi were detained. Zwelakhe Sisulu, who was not yet sixteen was arrested for not possessing a pass.
9 October, Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Govan Mbeki, Ahmed Kathrada, Rusty Bernstein, Denis Goldberg, James Kantor, Andrew Mlangeni, Elias Motsoaledi, Raymond Mhlaba and Bob Hepple, the Rivonia trialists, were charged with sabotage and attempting to overthrow the state violently. In the Cape Province, members of a breakaway group from the Non-European Unity Movement. Neville Alexander, Don Davis, Marcus Solomons, Elizabeth van der Heyden, Fikile Bam, Ian Leslie van den Heyden, Lionel Davis, Dorothy Alexander, Dulcie September, Doris van der Heyden and Gordon Hendricks were brought to trial in Cape Town.
April, Winnie Mandela was given permission to attend the Rivonia Trial on condition she did not dress or behave in a manner to cause "incidents".
20 April, Mandela made his famous speech from the dock in which he exclaimed that he was “prepared to die” for a free and democratic South Africa.
12 June, Nelson Mandela and all the other accused, except Rusty Bernstein , were found guilty of sabotage and sentenced to life imprisonment. Dennis Goldberg was held in Pretoria.
August, Winnie Mandela and Albertina Sisulu were given permission to visit Robben Island, but were forbidden to travel together as they were both banned.
September, Babla Saloojee dies after been thrown from the seventh floor of John Vorster Square, Johannesburg Police headquarters.
October, Winnie Mandela laid a charge of assault against the police. The incident occurred while she was at the police station bringing food for ninety-day detainee Paul Joseph. Chief Albert Luthuli called on Britain and the United States of America to apply sanctions against South Africa.
Mandela was allowed his first visit. Bram Fischer went underground.
Bram Fischer was sentenced to life imprisonment for sabotage. Andimba Ja Toivo of SWAPO joined Mandela on Robben Island. Winnie Mandela made her second visit to Robben Island. Sabata, nephew of the Tembu Chief Jongintaba Dalindyebo, dies. It was to the latter that Henry Mandela had entrusted his young son, Nelson Mandela. Kaiser Dalunonga Matanzima, a relative of Nelson Mandela, became Chief Minister of the Apartheid homeland of Transkei.
April, Mandela, Neville Alexander, Eddie Davis and Laloo Chiba were charged under section 99(1) of the Prison Regulations for being "idle, careless and negligent at work." The charges were later dropped.
July, Chief Albert Luthuli was knocked down and killed by a train while taking his routine walk on a familiar route at Groutville, Kwazulu-Natal.
September, Mandela was now allowed four visits a year. His son Makgatho made his first visit to prison and saw his father for the first time in 4 years.
9 September, Mandela saw his mother, Noqaphi Nosekeni, for the last time when she visited him on Robben Island. She died a year later.
September, Mandela's mother, Nonqaphi Nosekeni Mandela, died of a heart attack. Winnie Mandela and Paramount chief Dalindyebo of Tembuland apply for Mandela to attend funeral, but permission was refused.
20 December, Winnie Mandela recieved permission to visit Mandela.
May, Winnie Mandela was arrested with 21 others and detained for 5 months. She was interrogated and tortured. A group of British anti-apartheid activists planned to rescue Mandela from Robben Island, but the Bureau of State Security (BoSS) infiltrated the group and the plan was aborted.
July, Mandela was informed of the death of his son, Tembi in a car accident. Winnie Mandela and her co-accused were acquitted after 491 days in solitary confinement.
October, Winnie Mandela was served with a five year banning order and placed under house arrest.

Last updated : 11-Apr-2017

This article was produced for South African History Online on 03-Apr-2011