Nelson Mandela Foundation

The Nelson Mandela Foundation has acquired an archival document with great historical significance. Dating from the final stages of the Treason Trial (1956-1961), it is an open letter by the trialists to the people of Britain calling for support in their defence against the apartheid state’s charges of treason. The letter features original signatures by the trialists, including Nelson Mandela, Lilian Ngoyi, Walter Sisulu and Ahmed Kathrada.

“We are honoured to be in a position to retrieve this precious item for South African heritage,” said Foundation Chief Executive Sello Hatang. “We are indebted to our institutional partner Richmark for making this possible.”

Richmark purchased the document for the Foundation from the Canon Collins Educational and Legal Assistance Trust (CCELAT) in London.

Canon Collins was a prominent international anti-apartheid activist. He led endeavour to mobilise support in Britain for South African political trialists and their families, and is probably best known for the role he played in establishing and leading the International Defence and Aid Fund (IDAF). The archives of IDAF are now in the custody of the Mayibuye Centre at the University of the Western Cape.

The document was amongst a number of old papers discovered recently by CCELAT and put up for sale to raise funds for the Trust’s charitable work.