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Apartheid in South Africa
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Sharpeville Massacre
Soweto uprising · Treason Trial
Rivonia Trial · Mahlabatini Declaration
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South African Police

The Treason Trial was a trial in which 156 people (105 Blacks, 21 Indians, 23 Whites and 7 Coloureds), including Nelson Mandela, were arrested in a raid and accused of treason in South Africa in 1956. This was almost the entire executive of the African National Congress (ANC), Congress of Democrats, South African Indian Congress, Coloured People's Congress, and the South African Congress of Trade Unions (collectively known as the Congress Alliance). They were charged with "high treason and a countrywide conspiracy to use violence to overthrow the present government and replace it with a communist state." The punishment for high treason was death.

The accused were represented by a legal team which included Israel (Isie) Maisels, Sydney Kentridge, Vernon Berrangé and Bram Fischer. A Treason Trial Defense Fund was started up by Bishop Ambrose Reeves, writer Alan Paton, and Alex Hepple to pay the bail of the accused.

The trial required two stages, a preparatory examination in a magistrates court which would determine if there was sufficient evidence to support a trial, and then, if evidence existed, a trial by the Supreme Court. The preparatory examination of the case lasted until January 1958 (over a year), and resulted in charges against 61 of the accused being dropped - 95 people were still facing trial.

The main trial lasted until 1961, when all of the defendants were found not guilty. During the trials, Oliver Tambo left the country and was exiled. Whilst in other European and African countries he opened up an organization which helped bring publicity to the African National Congress's cause in South Africa. Some of the defendants were later convicted in the Rivonia Trial in 1964.

Defendants

Defendants in the Treason Trial included

Lawyers involved included

See also

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