Treason Trial, Johannesburg 1958

Size:73 x 58 cm

Medium:Signed Photograph, Hand Printed by Jurgen Schadeberg


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At dawn on the 5th December 1956 the police swooped down on 150 political leaders and academics who were rounded up, arrested and charged with treason. On the 13th of October 1958, Moses Kotane and Nelson Mandela leave the Pretoria court beaming with joy as the crown had withdrawn the indictment.

Jurgen says “The then Editor of Drum came rushing out of his office and requested a photographer to urgently rush to Pretoria…’something is going to happen….go yourself’, he said to me… just as I arrived in front of the Synagogue, the doors burst open and the accused emerged,  lighting cigarettes. This took place on October 13th 1958 when Mr. Pirow, leader of the Crown team, withdrew the indictment against the accused. The Treason Trial had begun in 1956. A few months later 30 of the 91 people were put on trial again, which lasted till March 29th 1961 when they were all acquitted. In the picture Mandela emerges beaming from the court, to his left is Moses Kotane, an ANC leader at the time.”