On a freezing winter’s night, a few hours before dawn on 12 May 1969, security police stormed the Soweto home of Winnie Mandela and detained her in the presence of her two young daughters, then aged eight and ten.
Rounded up in a group of other anti-apartheid activists under Section 6 of the Terrorism Act, designed for the security police to hold and interrogate people for as long as they wanted, she was taken away. This was the start for Winnie Mandela of a 491-day period of detention and two trials.
Forty-one years after her release on 14 September 1970, Greta Soggot, the widow of David Soggot, one of Winnie Mandela’s advocates during the 1969/1970 trials, handed her a stack of papers that included a journal and notes that she had written in detention.
491 Days: Prisoner number 1323/69 shares with the world Winnie Mandela’s moving and compelling journal as well as some of the letters written between affected parties at the time. Readers gain insight into the brutality she experienced, her depths of despair as well as her resilience and defiance under extreme pressure.
This book was co-edited by Swati Dlamini and Sahm Venter with the support of the Nelson Mandela Foundation.