IN JUNE 1964, Nelson Mandela was convicted of sabotage for his role as an ANC activist against the former apartheid regime of South Africa, in which only white people were allowed to vote. Mandela had been accused of inciting strikes by workers and leaving the country without permission of the government.
Before he was sentenced, he made a famous "speech from the dock," which ends with the words - in reference to his ideals and his country - "I am prepared to die."
In the Rivonia Trial Mr Mandela chose, instead of testifying, to make a speech from the dock and proceeded to hold the court spellbound for more than four hours. His speech, which was made at the beginning of the defence case, ended with the words:
“During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”
The anti-apateid hero died at his Johannesburg home yesterday (Dec 5). He was 95.
The announcement came from the current President Jacob Zuma. Addressing the nation, Zuma said: "Fellow South Africans, our beloved Nelson Mandela has departed.
"He passed on peacefully in the company of his family at about 20:50. He is now rested. He is now at peace. Our nation has lost its greatest son, our people have lost a father."
Mandela had returned home on September 1 in a critical condition after being in a Pretoria hospital for almost three months - the fourth time he had been admitted to hospital since December. He had battled a series of lung infections and respiratory illnesses in the past few years.