The Trial of Nelson Mandela (Rivonia Trial): Testimony of Cyril Davids
Testimony of Cyril Davids, participant at guerilla training camp, for the prosecution
(The cross-examination of Davids exposes the pressures on those, such as this witness, who were held under South Africa's 90-Day Detention Law.)

          Direct Examination by Percy Yutar:

What was the purpose of this lecture?
          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 judo?
          Davids: Because in guerrilla warfare it would be used for unarmed combat.
Yutar: Why were you taught to use a telephone?
          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 assertion that this camp was for health and spiritual purposes?
Davids: Yes.
Berrange: And I suppose you were laughed at? 
Davids: Yes.
Berrange: You were told that you weren’t telling the truth?
Davids: Yes.
Berrange: You were told that unless you did tell the truth you would be kept there for 90 days and a further 90 days and a further 90 days?
Davids: Yes, I realized that.
Berrange: You were told that?
Davids: Yes.
Berrange: But despite that fact you insisted that the camp had been run for health and spiritual purposes?
Davids: Yes.
Berrange: So, thereafter, when were you next interrogated?
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 with a different story you were going to be kept there?
Davids: Yes.
Berrange: When was your next interrogation?
Davids: Three weeks after that.
Berrange: And did you again persist in your statement?
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 your attitude?
Davids: Yes, I did.
Berrange: And again you were told, Well, you will be kept here indefinitely’?
Davids: Yes.
Berrange: Not told that you would be charged, or could be charged?
Davids: I realized that. I can’t remember having been told.
Berrange: Is it possible?
Davids: It is possible that I could have been told that.  
Berrange: But you had a distinct feeling that you might be charged?
Davids: Yes, I had an idea that I might be.
Berrange: And the fifth interrogation—how long was that after?
Davids: It was about three weeks afterwards.
Berrange: Who interviewed then?
Davids: Lt. Sauerman.
Berrange: I suppose he was friendly again?
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 must have been very angry with me.
Berrange: He now got to the stage of threatening you?
Davids: Yes.
Berrange: What did he threaten you with?
Davids: A further 90 days.
Berrange: Yes, but you had been told that before. On every previous occasion as I understand it, you had been told that you would be kept for a further 90 days, as you said on previous occasions. On this occasion you say he was very angry and threatened you. How did he show his anger?
Davids: He only threatened to leave me 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 again.
Berrange: Did he call you a liar?
Davids: Yes. He did that often.
Berrange: What 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 privilege of visitors from the Special Branch, from the Security Police. Is that the idea?
Davids: Yes.
Berrange: What did you do on this occasion? Again adopt your earlier attitude?
Davids: Yes.
Berrange: Were you interrogated again?
Davids: Yes, I was, another three or four weeks—possibly four weeks after.
Berrange: Now, did you still persist?
Davids: No.
Berrange: Who came to you on this occasion?
Davids: Lt. Sauerman.
Berrange: That was the occasion on which three weeks had elapsed between that and the earlier occasion?
Davids: Yes.
Berrange: What did he ask you?
Davids: He asked me what the camp was all about.
Berrange: Did you say for health and spiritual purposes?
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 assist in the training of young guerrillas?
Davids: Which Lt. Sauerman knew.
Berrange: Did he tell you that?
Davids:Yes. No.
Berrange: Now, please, why did you say ‘yes’?
Davids: It slipped actually.
Berrange: A very significant slip. I want to suggest to you Mr. Davids that Lt. Sauerman came to you and said to you: ‘I know that you were one of those training young guerrillas, because I got that evidence from other people’. And that was why you said ‘yes’ when I asked you the question?
Davids: No.
Berrange: Well, why did you say so?
Davids: It was a slip.
Berrange: I see. Now, Mr. Davids, you said that you weren’t particularly affected by this 90 day imprisonment. You weren’t feeling lonely. You weren’t feeling depressed. You had been well fed. You didn’t miss your wife, though you had missed your children. You did not mind being alone, because you are not a man who likes a lot of people around you. And you had adamantly persisted in what you say was a lie on at least five earlier occasions—there were actually six including the occasion when this matter was discussed with you three weeks after the camp. What made you change your mind?
Davids: I felt that I had had enough of 90 day detention.
Berrange: Were you by that time getting very depressed?
Davids: Yes, I was.
Berrange: You weren’t feeling lonely?
          Davids: No.
Berrange: Were you enjoying yourself?
Davids: To an extent, yes.
Berrange: You like being alone?
Davids: If it is possible.
Berrange: You welcomed this 90-day imprisonment?
Davids: To an extent.
Berrange: You told us on the last occasion that the reason why you told your interrogators on so many occasions what you now say is not the truth was because you were concerned to save your own skin, and to a lesser extent to protect your companions. You remember telling us that?
Davids: Yes, I do.
Berrange: And that was why you kept telling your interrogators that the object of this camp was quite an innocent one?
Davids: Yes.
Berrange: You say you did that to save your own skin?
Davids: Yes.
Berrange: I am therefore asking you what made you decide that you were no longer interested in saving your own skin?
Davids: Because I was getting fed up with the 90-day detention.
Berrange: Yes, but you might have done more than that. You might have had not only 90 days detention, but you might have had years and years and years in jail. You realized that didn’t you?
Davids: Yes, I did.
Berrange: So what was it that decided you to risk these years in jail?
Davids: I wanted to get the whole thing over with.
Berrange: Was it that you preferred jail to 90-days detention?
Davids: That’s one way of putting it.
Berrange: No, no. I don’t want to put words into your mouth. Is that what you really felt?
Davids: Yes.
Berrange:  You felt that jail as a hard labour prisoner would be a very much easier life to you than to be detained as a 90-day detainee?
Davids: That is correct.
Berrange: Had the police told you that you won’t be prosecuted?
Davids: No, they did not.
Berrange: Never?
Davids: Never.
Berrange: Had they told you that you would be released from your 90-day detention as soon as you had given your evidence?
Davids: Yes.
Berrange: You are still under 90-day detention? You are still in custody?
Davids: No… Yes, I am.
Berrange: And have you been told that when you have given your evidence you would be let go?
Davids: Yes.
Berrange: So you don’t expect to be charged, do you?
Davids: Yes, there is a charge against me in Cape Town.
Berrange: But you have been told that you would be released as soon as you have given evidence here?
Davids: That’s right.
Berrange: You realize perfectly well that if now you were to go back to the statement you had made to the police and to tell this court what you had originally told the police, namely, that this was an innocent camp, you would again be detained. You realize that?
Davids: Yes, I do.
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