Members of the ANC and SACP are detained due to Operation Vula

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Wednesday, 25 July 1990

On 25 July 1990 government security forces detained approximately forty members of the African National Congress (ANC) and South African Communist Party (SACP). Among those arrested were Sathyandranath 'Mac' Maharaj, Pravin Gordhan, Siphiwe Nyanda and Billy Nair. They were accused of being part of the ANC’splan called Operation Vula.

During 1986 the ANC launched an underground operation called Operation Vula. The main objectives of this operation were to smuggle freedom fighters into South Africa and maintain open communication links between the ANC Leaders in exile, at home and in prison. With the unbanning of the ANC in 1990, a decision was taken that the ANC should continue with Operation Vula because there were no guarantees that the government would negotiate in good faith with the liberation movement.

According to Lyndall Beddy, President F.W. de Klerk wrote in his autobiography: ‘In July 1990 the security forces uncovered a major ANC plot, code named Operation Vula, which was entirely at odds with the organisation’s undertakings in the Groote Schuur Minute and its professed commitment to a peaceful and negotiated constitutional settlement. In terms of the plot, the ANC had infiltrated key operatives into South Africa “including Mac Maharaj and Sipiwe Nyanda in 1988 and Ronnie Kasrils in 1990” to organize an underground network to prepare for revolution.’

References:
• Jenkin T. (1995), ‘The story of the secret underground communications network of Operation Vula’ from Hartford [online] Available at www.hartford-hwp.com [Accessed: 20 July 2011]
• Smith A. (2004), ‘Secret World of Operation Vula’ from News24 [online] Available at www.news24.com [Accessed: 20 July 2011]
• 
Interview (2002), 12 Mar 2002: Mahmaraj, Mac, from O’Malley Heart of Hope [online] Available at www.nelsonmandela.org

Last updated : 24-Jul-2013

This article was produced by South African History Online on 16-Mar-2011

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