The CIA's betrayal that led to arrest of Nelson Mandela: Time
Time magazine highlights the links between the United States notorious CIA and Black South African revolutionary Nelson Mandela's arrest in 1962.
Was the CIA involved in the arrest of prominent anti-apartheid activist and African leader-to-be Nelson Mandela in 1962, collaborating with the White supremacist state against a figure striving for Black liberation? According to Time magazine, that might exactly be the case.
According to the report, Mandela, a cautious revolutionary who had been underground for years and was using an alias, David Motsamayi, was stopped by a South African policeman whom he had never met as he was with White communist Cecil Williams, a member of the African National Congress.
The man pulled out an arrest warrant and asked Mandela to introduce himself, and he did, using his alias. The officer responded by saying: "Agh, you are Nelson Mandela, and this is Cecil Williams, and I am arresting you," the revolutionary said later on, noting that despite the policeman not having seen either of them before, he knew exactly who they were, though Mandela had drastically changed since his last public appearance; he even grew a beard.
Time said the small detail and various others that emerged over time have caused suspicion over the past few decades about the United States' involvement in Mandela's arrest, which saw the South African revolutionary getting imprisoned for 27 years.
Reports have come out alleging that the Central Intelligence Agency tipped off South Africa about Mandela's whereabouts ahead of his arrest, with many pointing out that his arrest, which took place on August 5, 1962, was at the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis between the Soviet Union and the United States, and seeing the US intelligence community believed that Mandela and the African National Congress were covert Soviet allies, Washington sought to undermine Moscow's standing in Africa, pushing it to collaborate with Pretoria.
Mandela, as per the article's author, Richard Stengel, did not care about who was behind his arrest. "I have no evidence either way, so I can't make a judgment -and I didn't even try to find out. The truth is, he just didn't really care. He was under arrest and now the battle was in a new arena. He only ever had one direction: forward," he quoted him as saying.
The Johannesburg Star printed a news story that quoted a "retired senior police officer" as saying that the South African police had been tipped off to Mandela’s whereabouts by an American diplomat at the US consulate in Durban, whom the author of the article published in 1986 accused of being "the CIA operative for that region."
In 1990, a similar new story came out, this time by the Atlanta Journal Constitution. It alleged that a retired US intelligence official said that hours after Mandela's arrest 27 years ago, a senior CIA operative walked into his office and revealed that "We have turned Mandela over to the South African security branch. We gave them every detail, what he would be wearing, the time of day, just where he would be. They have picked him up. It is one of our greatest coups."
The article further quoted former intelligence officials as saying the CIA saw that Mandela and the ANC posed a threat to the stability of the South African government at a time when Washington had signed an agreement with Pretoria, with South Africa being highly important for the US as a key source of uranium and other minerals, as well as a key ally for the West against the Soviet Union amid strong ties between the USSR and various newly-formed African states that had very close ties to the West.
Furthermore, Stengel cited an interview given by retired CIA officer Donald Rickard in 2016 to British film director John Irvin, in which he admitted to having tipped off the South African police about Mandela, revealing that he had been operating as an undercover State Department vice-consul in Durban, a "cauldron" of anti-apartheid action.
Finally, Stengel mentioned how the CIA declassified apartheid South Africa-related documents in 2017 in response to a general Freedom of Information request, which dated back to 1961-1962, the same time that Mandela was arrested and sentenced to life in prison for conspiring to overthrow the state. The author then said that he found relevant mentions of Mandela that had never been published by any new organization.
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One of the relevant mentions in question was in a declassified CIA document marked "SECRET", dating back to May 25, 1961. The CIA called Mandela a "probable Communist" that gave impetus to anti-apartheid protests, describing him as an "able organizer who reportedly has ample funds at his disposal, [he] seems to have revitalized the ‘Congress movement,’ the Communist-dominated multiracial groups which had been moribund since the banning last year of the African National Congress."
The other mention in question came in a memo marked "SECRET" from the CIA dating back to February 1962, just months before Mandela was arrested. The CIA highlighted Mandela's role as "the head of the ANC guerrilla movement", and underlined that he was no longer in South Africa.
"Mandela, who lived undercover in South Africa and Basutoland after the failure of the general strike he called last May, has left the country..." the memo read, with the rest of the sentence being blacked out. The author argued that this was the first piece of evidence that the CIA was tracking Mandela and knew he was not in South Africa.
Stengel said he tried to get the CIA to confirm or deny the speculation, but his attempts were fruitless, though given the benefit of the doubt, there are mountains of evidence suggesting that the CIA was involved in Mandela's arrest, especially with the enmity between the United States and the Soviet Union, to whom Washington saw Mandela as an ally, and the growing role of the CIA in the international arena at the time as an aspiring, somewhat newly-created intelligence agency that sought to weed out any pro-Soviet activity, or any activity believed to be harmful to Washington's interests, anywhere it could.
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Mandela's effect on this world cannot be denied, and he was one of the most renowned activists when it comes to Black liberation, as he was the first Black South African President after the country was dominated by its White minority. He is a Nobel Prize laureate due to his efforts toward ending the apartheid system in his country.
He was a political activist early on, joining the African National Congress in 1944 when he helped form the ANC Youth League, and just eight years later, he founded Mandela and Tambo, South Africa's first black-owned law firm, alongside Oliver Tambo, the President-to-be of the African National Congress.
He had departed from his country before his arrest, traveling throughout Africa and going to England, seeking support for the Black armed struggle against the apartheid regime.
On June 11, 1964, Mandela and seven others were convicted and sentenced to life in prison, narrowly escaping the death sentence, for conspiring to overthrow the South African apartheid government.
He was released from prison on February 11, 1990, by the government of President Frederik Willem de Klerk, with whom Mandela led the African National Congress through negotiations to abolish apartheid in South Africa.
Years later, Mandela was inaugurated as South Africa's first democratically elected President on May 10, 1994, before stepping down in 1999, and he continued his political life from the sidelines until his death in 2013.