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As a national heritage site, the underground headquarters of the banned ANC will receive financial help from the government to maintain its place in our history.
LILIESLEAF Farm, where key leaders of the ANC and Umkhonto we Sizwe hid during the struggle against apartheid, will soon be declared a national heritage site.


Minister of arts and culture Paul MashatileMinister of arts and culture Paul MashatileThe recognition means that the farm will receive a financial boost from the government to continue with developments and to ensure that it has adequate resources.

This was announced by Arts and Culture Minister Paul Mashatile at the Rivonia Trialists Gala Awards, held at the Sandton Convention Centre on 11 July in honour of the 12 Rivonia trialists and their families.

“We cannot write the history of the liberation struggle without Liliesleaf Farm,” he said. “The events that took place on that farm shaped the political landscape of our country. Recognising this historic place is a way of celebrating the sacrifices of the heroes who laid down their lives for the liberation of South Africa.

“This is story that must be told phase by phase. It is an important milestone for our struggle,” said Mashatile.

The awards were hosted by Umkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans Association and the Office of the Presidency.

Delivering the keynote speech, President Jacob Zuma described the 12 Rivonia trialists as the best freedom fighters to have been produced by the liberation struggle. “This was a generation of seasoned and hardened fighters and revolutionaries. They had been part of some of the most memorable and historic events of their time.


President Jacob ZumaPresident Jacob Zuma“Most of them served the liberation struggle for almost 20 years as full time, dedicated leaders.” The Rivonia Trial marked a change in the strategies and tactics of the liberation movement, when the armed struggle was adopted as the pillar of struggle, said Zuma.

The farm
Liliesleaf Farm was bought by the South African Communist Party in 1960s. For a long time it served as a hideout for senior ANC and Communist Party leaders.

It was also the headquarters of Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK), the ANC’s military wing that was formed with the sole purpose of overthrowing the apartheid government.

Nelson Mandela, who was the commander of MK, lived undercover on the farm. He posed as the caretaker, using the name David Motsamayi.

At the awards, Walter Sisulu, Govan Mbeki, Mandela, Rusty Bernstein, Ahmed Kathrada, Dennis Goldberg, James Kantor, Andrew Mlangeni, Raymond Mhlaba, Elias Motsoaledi, Arthur Goldreirch and Harold Wolpe were honoured. An exhibition of these heroes was on display during the awards ceremony.

It took place on the anniversary of the police raid of Liliesleaf, on 11 July 1963, during which the liberation leaders – who would become known as the Rivonia trialists – were arrested.


Andrew MlangeniAndrew Mlangeni is congratulated by President Jacob ZumaThey were charged with treason, following the establishment of evidence that they wanted to overthrow the government.

For Goldberg, nearly 50 years later and 17 years into democracy, the struggle continues. “It not simple to build a country than it is to overthrow the apartheid government,” he said.

“Yes we have won the fight against apartheid, but we now have to deal with the new challenges such as HIV/AIDs, unemployment and poverty, among many other issues.”

Goldberg also read a message from Mandela, who could not attend the awards ceremony. “I regret that I could not be with you today, but I trust that you will accept this message from the retired old man,” he wrote. “Let us all unite in celebrating those who sacrificed their lives and families for the liberation of the country.”

Mlangeni echoed Goldberg’s sentiments: “South Africa needs to holds hands, like we did during apartheid to intensify the fight against socio-economic challenges.”

Mlangeni and Goldberg personally received their awards.

Related stories:

Exhibition marks MK anniversary
Honour for Rivonia trialists
One day back in '63 at Liliesleaf
Liliesleaf takes trip back to 1963