The Trial of Nelson Mandela (Rivonia
Testimony of Ahmed Mohammed Kathrada, defendant (excerpts)
Direct Examination by Vernon Berrange:
Nelson Mandela Trial Homepage
And as a member of a minority group where do you think your future lies?
I have long come to the
conclusion, and so have the Indian people, that our future lies with
policies of the African National Congress...
Kathrada: I think that at the time, I had been arrested
something like seventeen times since 1946—or rather not
arrested, but I had been charged on seventeen occasions. I was arrested
more times and I am not including charges for just putting up posters
distributing leaflets or that sort of thing. In fact I was acquitted on
every charge except five.
What were the charges on
which you were convicted?
Apart from my participation in
the Defiance Campaign of 1952, I was charged and convicted on a charge
in the Cape Province
without a permit. (All Indian citizens of South Africa who wished to
from one province to another had to obtain permits.) In 1955 I was
for entering a location (that is, a segregated African residential
in 1961 I was convicted for contravening a banning order by going from Johannesburg to
mother who at the time was ill.
Cross-examination by Percy Yutar;
Do you agree that this proposed
broadcast of yours in response to the speech by the Minister of Finance
very vicious document?
I don’t agree. I agree that
it was in immoderate language, but I don’t agree that it was vicious. I
that what the Minister was saying was vicious.
You have called them (that
is the Nationalist Cabinet) amongst other things, criminal?
That’s what they are....
Your oath is to tell the truth,
the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
I am aware of that.
So that when it comes to giving
evidence which might implicate somebody either in this court or outside
court were you not prepared to give that evidence?
am honour bound not to.
bound to whom?
Kathrada: To my
conscience, my political
colleagues, to my political organization, to all of whom I owe loyalty.
about being honour bound to the
Kathrada: I am
not telling any lies.
are not honour bound to that, are
Kathrada: Well I
don’t know if the police are
doing the Almighty’s work! But I am not prepared to give the police
that might implicate other people.
adopted that attitude in the
box and you are doing the same.
there anything wrong with that?
ask me. I’ll tell his Lordship
what I think about it in due course. And I am telling you now that you
adopting the same attitude as Sisulu.
this political organization to
which you owe this loyalty; does it also include the African National
also includes the Umkhonto?
Kathrada: If I
knew anything about the Umkhonto
I would not tell you. If the fact of it was to implicate anybody, I
how am I to test your story and
what you are telling us?
Kathrada: I am
afraid I have no suggestions.
you incite people not to move from Sophiatown to Meadowlands?
I called upon the people not
Which do you prefer, Sophiatown
prefer to live where I like to live.
Not where somebody in Parliament tells me to live.
Yutar: But of
the two places, Sophiatown with
all its slums and shebeens or these beautiful garden houses in
which do you think is the better place of the two?
Kathrada: Sophiatown, with its
freedom, rather than Meadowlands which has got a hundred and one
permits and where your own mother can’t come and visit you without a
all very well to complain about
conditions in South Africa
but what about the Indians in India?
By the way, have you been to India?
Kathrada: I have
Yutar: Do you
know about the suffering of the
people in India?
Kathrada: In India?
I know about the suffering
of my people in this country where I was born. I don’t know anything
have never been there and you have
never done any research?
Kathrada: I have read about India....
Kathrada, do you know that India has a
three-year detention no trial law?
It is quite likely.
you ever voice any protest against
Kathrada: I did not.
Kathrada: I live in South Africa.
I suffer from the
laws in South Africa.
My objection is to what goes on to me and my people.
Yutar: Do you
know that Ghana
five-year detention no-trial law?
Kathrada: That is correct.
you ever spurned assistance from Ghana?
Kathrada: No. I’d get assistance from
provided it was for my people in this country, and for the freedom of
you choose to attack the
country of your birth?
Kathrada: I choose to attack it, and
I’ll go on
attacking it until things are put right.
you sometimes referred
to as K?
I am not referred to as K. I
don’t know of anybody who refers to me as K.
Yutar: Do you
know anybody else who goes
under the initial of K?
Yutar: So you are trying to be
funny at my expense?
I wasn’t. You asked me if I
knew of any Mr K, and I told you....
Did you have confidence in those
irresponsible leaders of the ANC?
I have said that I regard
the leadership of the ANC as responsible. I have said that those who
in Umkhonto have been forced to resort to these methods. I have the
admiration for their courage, and when you talk of responsibility, I
that members of the Ossewa Brandwag (a Nationalist supported, extreme
right-wing Afrikaner movement which existed during the second world
committed acts of sabotage when they had the vote and they had every
means of expressing themselves in this country. They resorted to
some of them are in the government today....
You are a member of the Communist Party?
Yutar: You are a follower of the
Kathrada: I am.
aim and object is to secure
freedom for what you call the oppressed people of this country?
Kathrada: For what are the oppressed
which doctrine you subscribe?
Kathrada: I do, fully and
you determined to see the fulfillment
of the policy, the aims and objects of the Communist Party?
Kathrada: I still am.
involves the overthrow of the
government of South
force and violence if necessary?
Kathrada: When and if necessary.