- Today in history, Nelson Mandela was caught and arrested in Cedara
- He shared details of the event in his autobiography
- He was sentenced to five years for the charges
This day, in 1962, was Nelson Mandela's last day of freedom before his 27 years of incarceration. He was captured in Cedara, a small town near Howick in KwaZulu-Natal.
The arrest came shortly after his return to the country after completing six months of military training in Morocco and after attending the All Africa People’s Conference in Ethiopia. Mandela, in his disguise as a chauffeur, had been driving with fellow activist Cecil Williams from KwaZulu-Natal to Gauteng.
In his autobiography, A Long Walk to Freedom, he described the events of the day.
“I noticed a Ford V-8 filled with white men shoot past us on the right… I knew in that instant that my life on the run was over; my seventeen months of ‘freedom’ were about to end.”
He said he considered jumping out of the car but feared being shot. He went on to describe the moments leading to the arrest. He was asked to identify himself but he refused. The frustrated policemen identified him and placed him under arrest.
“Cecil and I were locked in separate cells. I now had time to ruminate on my situation. I had always known that arrest was a possibility, but even freedom fighters practise denial, and in my cell that night I realised I was not prepared for the reality of capture and confinement."
The late struggle leader was charged with incitement to strike and with illegally leaving the country. Bob Hepple acted as his legal representative.
In November of the same year, he was sentenced to five years' imprisonment on the charges. He began his sentence in Pretoria Central Prison.
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