Mandela month- Nelson Mandela 100th birthday count down Seven days to go-  Acting on information from an informant, the Special Forces raided Lilies leaf farmhouse on 11 July 1963.

 When the police came through the door, they found a group of men studying ‘Operation Mayibuye’ – an MK proposal for guerrilla warfare, insurrection and revolution. Among the group were Walter Sisulu, Govan Mbeki, Raymond Mahlaba, Ahmed Kathrada, Arthur Goldreich, Dennis Goldberg and Lionel Bernstein.

Hundreds of incriminating documents were found during the raid, and members of the group were immediately arrested. Bob Hepple, part of the group found and arrested on the property, tried to burn documents related to Operation Mayibuye during the raid, but failed.

The group was arrested with the police relying on the 90-day detention law to delay their appearance in court while investigations continued. During this time more arrests followed, including that of Harold Wolpe, a lawyer who had used SACP funds to buy the farm; James Kantor, who was not involved in MK or in politics but was a legal colleague and brother-in-law of Wolpe; and MK Cadres Elias Motsoaledi and Andrew Mlangeni, who were linked to the farm through their fingerprints.

During this 90 day period – Nelson Mandela was added to the list of accused as evidence linking him to the farm was also found. Mandela was already serving a five-year sentence for his role in the campaigns of 1961 intended to disrupt Republic Day celebrations.

During their detention, Goldreich and Wolpe bribed a prison guard and made a spectacular escape, and Hepple was released on bail after three months in solitary confinement. He was told that he would be called as the first witness for the State. Rather than testify he fled the country.



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