Professor Bob Hepple is born

Saturday, 11 August 1934

Professor Bob Hepple was born in Johannesburg, Transvaal (now Gauteng). His father, Alex Hepple, was a trade unionist, Labour Party member and Chairman of the Treason Trial Defence Fund.

From the emergence of the South African Congress of Trade Unions (SACTU) in 1955, Bob Hepple devoted himself to building up this newly formed multi-racial organisation. He was joint editor of the SACTU newspaper, Workers’ Unity, and helped the black Metal Workers’ Union and other small unions survive the near-illegal conditions with legal advice, practical aid and education. 

On 11 July 1963, Bob Hepple was one of seven people arrested at Lilliesleaf Farm, Rivonia, near Johannesburg. After three months detention in solitary confinement, they, together with four others, were brought before the Supreme Court and charged with sabotage.  Nelson Mandela was the first accused. 

• Dingle, L. and Bates, D. ‘Professor Sir Bob Hepple’, from  University of Cambridge, [online], available at (Accessed: 02 August 2013)
• South African History Online, ‘Bob Hepple’, [online], Available at (Accessed: 02 August 2013)
• Debrett’s ‘Prof Sir Bob Hepple, QC, FBA’, [online], Available at (Accessed: 02 August 2013)

Last updated : 08-Aug-2013

This article was produced by South African History Online on 08-Aug-2013

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