The trial of 20 Africans, including Winnie Mandela, wife of jailed African Nationalist Leader, Nelson Mandela, on capital charges under South Africa's Terrorism Act resumed in Pretoria Supreme Court on Monday (August 24).
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Background: The trial of 20 Africans, including Winnie Mandela, wife of jailed African Nationalist Leader, Nelson Mandela, on capital charges under South Africa's Terrorism Act resumed in Pretoria Supreme Court on Monday (August 24).
The trial had been postponed for three weeks at the request of Defence Lawyers who were expected to continue their arguments that 19 of the accused had already been acquitted of similar charges, and that the 20th was wrongly arrested in violation of International Law.
The 19 were among 22 Africans acquitted in the Pratoria Supreme Court earlier this year of charges under the Suppression of Communism Act. They were immediately taken back into custody without charge, by Security Police. After several weeks of silence, three of the 22 were released.
The others, by then joined by the 20th accused, Benjamin Ramotse, have now been returned to the same court which acquitted them, facing a 58-page indictment under South Africa's Terrorism Act.
Ramotse, who claims Zambian citizenship, said in court that he had been arrested by Rhodesian troops in Botswana and handed over the South African Security Police, who he alleges, "mercilessly" tortured him.
Through counsel he submitted that his arrest was a violation of International Law.
Among the charges the accused faces are those of receiving guerrilla training abroad, incitement to murder, and incitement to sabotage and conspiracy to make war against South Africa.
Strict security arrangements were in force outside the court. While not visible, the influence of Security Police was strong evident, and cameramen were limited in their coverage to the extent of not being permitted to photograph the front of the courthouse.
Nelson Mandela is serving a life sentence on Robben Island, South Africa's maximum security prison island off Cape Town. Until this imprisonment, Mandela had been leader of the banned African National Congress.