The Trial of Nelson Mandela (Rivonia
Trial): Testimony of Cyril Davids
of Cyril Davids, participant at guerilla training camp, for the
(The cross-examination of Davids exposes the pressures
on those, such
as this witness, who were held under South Africa's 90-Day Detention
Direct Examination by Percy Yutar:
Nelson Mandela Trial Homepage
Yutar: What was the purpose of this
Davids: And the answer came
back, pat and prompt—’For use in guerrilla warfare....
Yutar: Why were you learning
to handle a duplicating machine?
Answer: Because in guerrilla
warfare we might need to hand out leaflets.
Yutar: Why were you being taught
Davids: Because in guerrilla warfare it
would be used for unarmed combat.
Yutar: Why were you taught to use a
Davids: Because in guerrilla warfare we
might need field telephones.
Cross-Examination by Vernon Berrange:
Berrange: How long
was it after you were first arrested that you were interrogated?
Davids: Five days.
Berrange: And you persisted with your
that this camp was for health and spiritual purposes?
Berrange: And I suppose you were
Berrange: You were told that you
telling the truth?
Berrange: You were told that unless
did tell the truth you would be kept there for 90 days and a further 90
and a further 90 days?
Davids: Yes, I realized that.
Berrange: You were told that?
despite that fact you
insisted that the camp had been run for health and spiritual purposes?
Berrange: So, thereafter, when were
Davids: A week after that.
Berrange: And I take it that you again
insisted that the camp was run for health and spiritual purposes?
Davids: Yes, I did.
Berrange: And again you were told that
they didn’t believe you? And they told you that unless you came out
different story you were going to be kept there?
Berrange: When was your next
Davids: Three weeks after that.
did you again persist in
Davids: Yes, I did.
Berrange: We come then to the fourth
interrogation. How long was that after your third?
Davids: I can’t remember the exact
period, but it must have been about two weeks.
Berrange: Did you again persist in
Davids: Yes, I did.
Berrange: And again you were told,
you will be kept here indefinitely’?
Berrange: Not told that you would be
charged, or could be charged?
realized that. I can’t
remember having been told.
Berrange: Is it possible?
Davids: It is possible that I could
been told that.
Berrange: But you had a distinct
you might be charged?
Davids: Yes, I had an idea that I
Berrange: And the fifth
long was that after?
Davids: It was
about three weeks
Berrange: Who interviewed then?
Davids: Lt. Sauerman.
Berrange: I suppose he was friendly
Davids: Not exactly.
Berrange: Well, what was he, if he was
‘not exactly friendly’. Was he angry with you?
Davids: Yes, he was. That time he
have been very angry with me.
Berrange: He now got to the stage of
Berrange: What did he threaten you
Davids: A further 90 days.
Berrange: Yes, but you had been told
before. On every previous occasion as I understand it, you had been
you would be kept for a further 90 days, as you said on previous
this occasion you say he was very angry and threatened you. How did he
Davids: He only threatened to leave
in prison for a further 90 days.
Berrange: Well, then how did his anger
show itself on this fifth occasion?
Davids: Because he refused to see me
Berrange: Did he
call you a liar?
He did that often.
was going to happen if he
didn’t see you again?
Davids: I would stay for another 90
days, I should imagine.
Berrange: Now, you would just be kept
there for the rest of the time by yourself without even having the
visitors from the Special Branch, from the Security Police. Is that the
Berrange: What did you do on this
occasion? Again adopt your earlier attitude?
Berrange: Were you interrogated again?
Davids: Yes, I
was, another three or
four weeks—possibly four weeks after.
Berrange: Now, did you still persist?
Berrange: Who came to you on this
Davids: Lt. Sauerman.
Berrange: That was the occasion on
three weeks had elapsed between that and the earlier occasion?
Berrange: What did he ask you?
Davids: He asked me what the camp
Berrange: Did you say for health and
Davids: No, I did not.
Berrange: What did you say?
Davids: I told
him it was a camp where
young guerrillas would be trained.
Berrange: Now you were prepared to
in the training of young guerrillas?
Davids: Which Lt. Sauerman knew.
Berrange: Did he tell you that?
Now, please, why did you say
A very significant slip. I
to suggest to you Mr. Davids that Lt. Sauerman came to you and said to
know that you were one of those training young guerrillas, because I
evidence from other people’. And that was why you said ‘yes’ when I
Well, why did you say so?
Davids: It was a slip.
I see. Now, Mr. Davids, you
that you weren’t particularly affected by this 90 day imprisonment. You
feeling lonely. You weren’t feeling depressed. You had been well fed.
didn’t miss your wife, though you had missed your children. You did not
being alone, because you are not a man who likes a lot of people around
And you had adamantly persisted in what you say was a lie on at least
earlier occasions—there were actually six including the occasion when
matter was discussed with you three
weeks after the camp. What made you change your mind?
I felt that I had had enough
90 day detention.
Were you by that time
Yes, I was.
Berrange: You weren’t
you enjoying yourself?
To an extent, yes.
You like being alone?
If it is possible.
You welcomed this 90-day
To an extent.
You told us on the
last occasion that the reason why you told your interrogators on so
occasions what you now say is not the truth was because you were
save your own skin, and to a lesser extent to protect your companions.
remember telling us that?
And that was why you kept
telling your interrogators that the object of this camp was quite an
You say you did that to save
your own skin?
therefore asking you what
made you decide that you were no longer interested in saving your own
Because I was getting fed up
with the 90-day detention.
Yes, but you might have done
more than that. You might have had not only 90 days detention, but you
have had years and years and years in jail. You realized that didn’t
Yes, I did.
So what was it that decided
to risk these years in jail?
I wanted to get the whole
Was it that you preferred
to 90-days detention?
That’s one way of putting
No, no. I don’t want to put
words into your mouth. Is that what you really felt?
felt that jail as a hard
labour prisoner would be a very much easier life to you than to be
a 90-day detainee?
That is correct.
Had the police told you that
won’t be prosecuted?
No, they did not.
Had they told you that you
be released from your 90-day detention as soon as you had given your
You are still under 90-day
detention? You are still in custody?
No… Yes, I am.
And have you been told that
you have given your evidence you would be let go?
So you don’t expect to be
charged, do you?
Yes, there is a charge
me in Cape Town.
But you have been told that
would be released as soon as you have given evidence here?
Berrange: You realize perfectly well
that if now you were to go back to the
had made to the police and to tell this court what you had originally
police, namely, that this was an innocent camp, you would again be
You realize that?
Yes, I do.