This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.
Mac's statement before sentencing
MAC'S CLOSING STATEMENT TO JUDGE
STATEMENT BYH : S.R. MAHARAJ (Acc. No. 5)
My Lord although I have been found guilty I actually had very little to do with sabotage. I acted as a messenger, made my house available for the activities of the members of the Umkhonto and bought various items at the behest of other persons. It is true that I did other political work in opposition to the Government but this had nothing to do with sabotage.
When I was arrested a pistol was found in my home. This pistol had nothing to do with Umkhonto activities. I live in a rough area, Doornfontein, and I have a pistol for personal protection. Many other people, black and white in Doornfontein also have pistols.
I am 30 years of age and studied at the University of Natal and the London School of Economics. I grew up in a little town in northern Natal where I matriculated at the age of 17. My father is a cripple and even while at school I had to work in a quarry in order to earn money for school fees and books. I entered the University in order to study law. In order to do this I worked during the day earning £10 per month and had to live and study on this minute amount. I first obtained a B.A. degree at the University of Natal and thereafter I began my LL.B degree but after I had completed the first year LL.B the law faculty was closed to non-whites and I was refused a permit to study either at the University of Cape Town or Witwatersrand I therefore was compelled to go to Britain in 1957 to continue my studies and subsequently I read for an LL.B degree at the London School of Economics as a part time student.
After Sharpeville I felt that I had to return ultimately to South Africa to play my role in the liberation of my people. Even while I contemplated my return to South Africa, I witnessed from afar the banning of the organizations of the non-white people. I watched the Government steadily and ceaselessly close the doors to a peaceful transition in my country. I was dismayed by the unyielding attitude of the Government, I was angered by injustice, by the banning of the organizations, the arrests, the banishment of our leaders and the granite wall attitude of the Government.
Eventually I returned to South Africa dedicated and determined to assist in the struggle for the liberation of my people. I returned to South Africa where the struggle for our liberation had to be conducted illegally because there were no lawful avenues open in the struggle for liberation, in this struggle I felt that at last I was doing something.
We in South Africa are fighting for an end to apartheid, for the liberation of the non-white people, and we seek a South Africa where black and white can live in freedom and equality.
I, My Lord, am a reasonably well educated person, I am eager to work to earn a living to study in my spare time and be a law abiding citizen, yet in the country of my birth the universities are closed to me, I have no vote, I cannot go where I like or buy property where I like. There is no way of protest open to me other than sabotage. Whatever punishment your Lordship metes out to me cannot convince me that I have acted wrongly. I cannot see how morally it can be wrong to fight for one's freedom and the freedom of other people.