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The 22 ANC Political Trialists of 1969

The Order of Luthuli in

The 22 ANC Political Trialists of 1969 Awarded for:
Their brave fight against apartheid. They suffered but stood fiercely with the courage of their convictions for their freedom.
The majority of these men and women were arrested in May 1969 and were held in solitary confinement for seven months until they appeared in court in December 1969. They were charged under the Suppression of Communism Act, 1950 (Act 44 of 1950) – renamed the Internal Security Act in 1976 – in a case known as “State vs Samson Ndou and 21 others”.

They were charged for offences allegedly committed from 1967 until the date of arrest. They were charged with 21 main charges, most of them concerned with membership of the African National Congress (ANC). Some of the charges included the alleged plot to obtain explosives and commit acts of sabotage in Johannesburg and nearby areas.

The State accused them of inspecting trains and railway installations at Braamfontein, Croesus, Booysens and Crown Mines, and searched for the Langeberg Cooperative to find suitable targets and methods for committing acts of sabotage.

Most of these men and women had been leading members of the ANC prior to its banning, the South African Congress of the Trade Unions, the ANC Women’s League and the Transvaal Indian Congress.

The names of the 22 trialists are: Mr Samson Ndou; Mr David Motau; Ms Winnie Madikizela Mandela; Mr Jackson Mahlaule; Mr Elliot Shabangu; Ms Joyce Sikakane; Mr Lawrence Ndzanga; Ms Rita Ndzanga; Mr Joseph Zikalala; Mr David Dalton Tsotetsi; Mr George Mokwebo; Mr Joseph Chamberlain Nobanda; Mr Samuel Solomon Pholoto; Mr Simon Mosikare; Mr Douglas Mtshetshe Mvemve; Ms Venus Thokozile Mngoma; Ms Martha Dlamini; Mr Owen Vanqa; Mr Peter Sexforth Magubane; Mr Paulos Matshaba; Ms Shantie Naidoo; Ms Nomwe Mamkhala.

Mr Benjamin Ramotso was the other accused who on 18 June 1970 was a trained cadre of Umkhonto we Sizwe. He was kidnapped in Botswana in June 1968 transferred to the then Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) where he was severely tortured before being handed over to the South African Police in July 1968. The significance of this case lies in the fact that it was related to activities that took place a few years after the landmark Rivonia Trial.

In the aftermath of the banning of the political organisations which political activity was severely repressed, activists were driven underground or locked up in prisons. The activists constituted themselves into a powerful motor force for the regrouping of the resistance movement.

Their actions inspired enthusiasm for organisation and mobilisation as well as for new forms of political formation and struggles. The intention of the apartheid state was largely defeated.