Liliesleaf has always been a place of dialogue. In the early 1960s, when the property was the headquarters for covert, underground activities and a safe house for many leading figures of the liberation movement, debates on political and military policy and strategy were commonplace. People from diverse backgrounds but with a common vision met here to discuss South Africa's emancipation from an oppressive apartheid regime. Today Liliesleaf is a repository for those conversations, and a place where the fruits of a free and equal South Africa are recounted and celebrated.
On 11 July 1963, a dramatic police raid took place at Liliesleaf. Concealed inside a laundry van, a number of security branch policemen made their way down a long, dusty driveway. Members of the MK high command were meeting to discuss a contested strategy to overthrow the government. The raid took them completely by surprise. In the search that followed, the police combed every square centimetre of the property, and collected masses of liberation struggle documents. The security police proclaimed that they had 'hit the jackpot'.
For the apartheid government, the event was a coup. For the liberation movement, it was a crippling blow. Comrades Bernstein, Goldberg, Goldreich, Hepple, Kathrada, Mbeki, Mhlaba and Sisulu were detained. The farm labourers, who were oblivious of the true purpose of Liliesleaf, were also rounded up and taken into police custody. At this stage no one knew what would happen to them.Following the raid, they were joined by Nelson Mandela, who at the time of the raid was serving a five year prison sentence, as well as Andrew Mlangeni and Elias Motsoaledi, fellow comrades who had been arrested prior to the raid.
A dramatic series of events played out in the months after the raid: a gripping jailbreak, the arrest of an unsuspecting and innocent bystander, and much speculation about the identity of the source who had exposed Liliesleaf. Was it an ANC informer, a neighbour, or a foreign intelligence agency?
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+27 11 803 7882/3/4
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