16 Policemen and a dog named Cheetah


On a cold winters day in July 1963, senior leaders of the ANC were gathered in a thatched cottage at Liliesleaf farm in Rivonia to discuss a Operation Mayibuye – a plot overthrow the apartheid government.

That afternoon, 16 policemen and a dog name Cheetah raided the farm, the men were arrested and from this event came the very famous Rivonia Trials.


The thatched cottage at Liliesleaf where top leaders of the ANC were gathered on 11 July 1963 to discuss Operation Mayibuye when the farm was raided by security police.

“Liliesleaf was an old house that needed work and no-one lived there.  I moved in under the pretext that I was a houseboy or caretaker that would live there until my master would take possession.  I had taken the alias David Motsamayi, the name of one of my former clients. At the farm, I wore the simple blue overalls that were the uniform of the black male servant.” Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom.

Aerial photo of Liliesleaf taken after the raid. The farm was used by members of the liberation movement, including Nelson Mandela, from October 1961 to July 1963.

Last week Radio 702’s John Robbie did an outside broadcast from Liliesleaf and I decided that it is now finally time to get myself there.  So yesterday, after teaching at my project and a quick lunch, I went to Liliesleaf in the wealthy suburb of Rivionia, which is a five minute drive from the office.

I was so intrigued with the incredible stories and fascinating history of the place and really impressed with the world class facility and it cost just R60 to get in.  I just can’t imagine why it has taken me so long to visit. If you live in Jo’burg this is something you really have to do.

On display at Liliesleaf – A safari trucked used to smuggle arms into South Africa in the 80s for the ANC armed struggle.

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