President Jacob Zuma has shared his memories of a time in the early 1960s when a group of ANC members wanted to start a “revolution” in Durban by “slaughtering” white people with bush knives.
But the ANC’s senior leaders intervened beforehand and gave the prospective revolutionaries a tongue-lashing.
“If our revolution went through, there would have been chaos. Many people would have been killed,” he told a small audience of struggle veterans at Liliesleaf at the 50th commemoration of the start of the Rivonia Trial last night.
Zuma said the commemoration was important because “we are celebrating the fact that we were able to triumph over the evil that is institutionalised racism and the oppression of people on the basis of race”.
He also said it provided an opportunity “to reflect on a difficult period of our struggle, when the need arose to take up arms against the apartheid regime”.
Zuma said the creation of the ANC’s military wing, Umkhonto weSize (MK) helped direct the anger in a disciplined way.
Liliesleaf was a meeting place for MK at the time.
He said after the raid at Liliesleaf and the arrests, the apartheid regime was convinced that it had successfully crushed all resistance to it.
“What they did not know is that the seeds of resistance that were planted at Liliesleaf had germinated beyond the physical boundaries of the farm itself.”
He said the Rivonia trialists who faced charges which could have landed them the death penalty, were not afraid to speak out.
“They used the court sessions as a platform to advance the cause of the revolution. And also their conviction made it difficult for the enemy to obtain information that could cripple the struggle for liberation.
“They took a conscious decision to make political and ideological statements rather than focusing on the legal technicalities because they knew that they could not get justice in the racist apartheid court,” he said.
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