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Today in History: June 12th, 1964

Photo Credit: TREVOR SAMSON / AFP / Getty Images
Photo Credit: TREVOR SAMSON / AFP / Getty Images

Nelson Mandela is Sentenced to Life in Prison in South Africa

On June 12, 1964, Nelson Mandela, along with seven other anti-apartheid activists, was sentenced to life imprisonment by the South African government. This moment marked a turning point in the fight against apartheid, the harsh system of racial segregation and discrimination enforced by the South African government.

In July 1963, Mandela and other leaders of the African National Congress (ANC) were arrested during a police raid at Liliesleaf Farm in Rivonia, a suburb of Johannesburg. They were charged with sabotage and conspiring to overthrow the government through violent means. The Rivonia Trial, as it came to be known, became a symbol of the apartheid regime’s determination to crush any resistance.

Headshot of Nelson Mandela.
Nelson Mandela on March 8, 1999 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo Credit: Per-Anders Pettersson / Getty Images)

On June 12, 1964, Judge Quartus de Wet delivered the verdict. Mandela and his co-defendants were found guilty and sentenced to life in prison. The judge noted that he was sparing them the death penalty. The sentencing shocked the world and drew widespread international condemnation, further fueling the global anti-apartheid movement.

Mandela and the other convicted activists were sent to Robben Island, a maximum-security prison off the coast of Cape Town. The conditions were brutal: hard labor, poor food, and limited contact with the outside world. Despite these hardships, Mandela became a symbol of resistance and hope, inspiring many within South Africa and around the globe.

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The sentencing of Mandela and his colleagues had a lasting impact on the anti-apartheid struggle. After 27 years in prison, Mandela was released on February 11, 1990, amid growing domestic and international pressure. His release marked the beginning of the end for apartheid, leading to multiracial elections in 1994, where Mandela became South Africa’s first black president. The events of June 12, 1964, remain a significant milestone in the history of human rights and justice, symbolizing the relentless fight against oppression.

TVN News Poster

TVN News Poster is one of the authors writing for The Vintage News