The 50th anniversary of the Rivonia Trial

Rivonia trialists from left: Ahmed Kathrada, Andrew Mlangeni, Nelson Mandela and Denis Goldberg

The approaching 50th anniversary of the Rivonia Trial, which saw Nelson Mandela and seven others sentenced to life imprisonment, will attract much media attention.

To assist the media in their reporting we have compiled two timelines, both accessible online:

  • Nelson Mandela prison timeline
  • Nelson Mandela trials and prison chronology

These timelines address several common myths related to the Rivonia Trial:

  • That Nelson Mandela was arrested in the Rivonia Raid in 1963. In fact, he was arrested on 5 August 1962
  • That Nelson Mandela was incarcerated on Robben Island when the Rivonia Raid happened on 11 July 1963. In fact, he was serving his sentence in the Pretoria Local Prison at the time – having been on Robben Island earlier for two weeks, from 27 May 1963 to 12 June 1963
  • That Nelson Mandela and the seven others convicted with him were sent to Robben Island. In fact, Denis Goldberg, the only white person convicted in the Rivonia Trial, was sent to Pretoria since white prisoners were not allowed on Robben Island
  • That the Rivonia Trial started in November 1963. In fact, the accused first appeared in court on 9 October 1963. After a range of legal delays and actions, they pleaded to the charges on 3 December 1963
  • That the Rivonia Trial was a “treason trial”. In fact, the Rivonia accused were charged and convicted of sabotage, not treason

The timelines contain many other useful facts which may assist media in their reporting.

For more information about the life and times of Nelson Mandela, please consult our website.