Nelson Mandela Foundation


A warrant of committal issued on the November 7, 1962, by the Supreme Court of South Africa

March 17, 2010 – Nelson Mandela was captured on August 5, 1962, on the outskirts of Howick, in KwaZulu-Natal. Following his sentencing, a Warrant of Committal, dated November 7, 1962, was issued by the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court.

Mr Mandela was convicted and sentenced to five years in prison; three years for conviction on charges of “inciting to trespass laws” (to strike) and two for leaving South Africa without a passport. It was stipulated that the two sentences were to run consecutively.

Mr Mandela was imprisoned on Robben Island in May 1963 and issued with a prison number; 19476/62. Mr Mandela only spent two weeks on Robben Island, however, after which he was transferred back to Pretoria.

The South African Prisons Department issued a press release suggesting it was to prevent him from being assaulted by other prisoners; Mr Mandela rejected that. He also rejected the notion that his transfer to Pretoria was connected to the Rivonia arrests, which took place on July 11, 1963, almost a month after his transfer.

In the raid on Liliesleaf Farm in Rivonia, Walter Sisulu, Ahmed Kathrada, Govan Mbeki, Denis Goldberg and others were captured. Mr Mandela was kept in Pretoria to stand trial with his colleagues, including others arrested elsewhere, in what became known as the Rivonia Trial. He was “accused number one”.

A second Warrant of Committal was issued by the Transvaal Provincial Division of the Supreme Court of South Africa on June 12, 1964, the same day the judge handed down a sentence of life imprisonment for Mr Mandela and his colleagues, who were convicted on four counts of sabotage.

The first two counts were for contravening Section 21(1) of the General Laws Amendment Act (Sabotage Act) No. 76 of 1962; the third in contravention of Section 11(a), read with Sections 1 and 12 of Act No. 44 of 1950; and the fourth was for contravening Section 3(1) (6), read with Section 2 of Act No. 8 of 1953 (as amended).

Madiba was returned to Robben Island late that night, arriving on the morning of June 13, 1964, to start serving his life sentence.

He was the 466th person to be admitted to the Robben Island prison in 1964, when he was given his now-famous prison number, 466/64.

The two framed warrants were presented to Mr Mandela on February 11, 1995 – the fifth anniversary of his release from prison – by then Correctional Services Minister Sipho Mzimela, on behalf of the department.


Mr Mandela’s warrant of committal which was issued on June 12, 1964