Rolling up rivonia: 1962–1963

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Liliesleaf was purchased in 1961 by the South African Communist Party and it functioned as a nerve centre for the liberation movements and key leaders of that era. The significance of Liliesleaf is that this was a place where the transition into a new form of struggle, namely armed struggle occurred, making an icon of that struggle for freedom. Liliesleaf marks a seminal shift in South Africa’s liberation struggle history. On 11 July 1963 the police raided Liliesleaf. Their rolling up of Rivonia in turn culminated in the Rivonia Trial. For the apartheid government this was a coup. For the liberation movement, it represented a blow. Many theories abound as to how the police identified Liliesleaf. This paper presents new information about these complex and myriad historical events. The paper shows that the raid was the culmination of a much longer term investigation by various state agencies and not only the Security Branch of the South African Police.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)404-417
Number of pages14
JournalSouth African Historical Journal
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jul 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • African national congress
  • Direction finding
  • Intelligence
  • Liliesleaf
  • Mandela
  • Rivonia
  • SADF
  • Security branch
  • South african communist party
  • Umkhonto we sizwe

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History


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