The Little Rivonia Trial was a South African apartheid-era court case in which several members of the armed resistance group Umkhonto we Sizwe faced charges of sabotage. The accused were: Laloo Chiba, Dave Kitson, Mac Maharaj, John Matthews and Wilton Mkwayi. A confederate of theirs, Lionel Gay turned state witness, and in return, the prosecution dropped the charges against him.
Judge W.G. Boshoff presided over the November 1964 trial, with human rights lawyer George Bizos one of the advocates appearing for the defence. All the accused were found guilty. Maharaj's legal representatives were expecting that he would receive the death penalty for his Central Committee membership of the South African Communist Party. During the sentencing phase Mkwayi would simply say in his defence: "My Lord, I am a professional agitator". Mkwayi received a life sentence; Kitson twenty years; Chiba eighteen years; Matthews fifteen years and Maharaj twelve years. While Kitson and Matthews (both white), were imprisoned in Pretoria, Mkwayi, Maharaj and Chiba joined Nelson Mandela and other prominent African National Congress members for hard labour at the famous Robben Island quarry.
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“A trial cannot be conducted by announcing the general culpability of a civilization. Only the actual deeds which, at least, stank in the nostrils of the entire world were brought to judgment.”
—Albert Camus (19131960)