Raymond Kunene, London representative, ANC: Letter
We enclose some of the biographical data we have so far on the case of the three Africans who have been sentenced to death by the South African Government. We are desperately trying to get all possible information from South Africa about the case. We shall send this information to you as soon as we get it. Unfortunately, we have no background information on the others.
Death sentences have been passed on three leaders of the banned African National Ccngress in South Africa. All three are from the Eastern Cape Province. They are Vuyisile Mini, Zinakele Mkaba and Wilson Khayinga.
They were tried in the isolated village of Port Alfred, hundreds of miles from their homes in Port Elizabeth and the venue of the trial in itself created tremendous difficulties for the defence.
The three were accused of seventeen incidents of sabotage between September 1962 and January 1963. Other charges against them included house-breaking, propagating the aims of the banned organization – the African National Congress by addressing meetings and recruiting members with the object of sending them overseas for military training, and one of murder.
The charges under which the three men were condemned to die were framed under the General LawsAmendment Act 1962. Many of the witnesses were men detained under the 90-day system trial. When these witnesses were broken down in solitary confinement they were then considered suitable to give evidence.
Vuyisile Mini, the most well known of the three, was born in 1920 and grew up in Korsten, an African township near Port Elizabeth. By 1937 Mini had already taken part in local protests against higher rents and bus fares and later became secretary of the local African Dockworkers` Union and a prominent member of the S.A. Congress of Trade Unions. He was also Secretary of the Cape region of the African National Congress before it was banned.
He was prominent in resisting the mass removal of residents from Korsten and in 1952 went to jail for three months for his part in the Defiance Campaign.
In 1956 Mini was arrested and charged with 156 others in the Treason Trial which was to end in acquittal after nearly four years. Before being charged in the present trial Mini was also held in solitary confinement for months under the 90-day laws.
He is also a well-known singer and composer and many of his freedom songs are still sung in South Africa.
Details are unavailable yet about Mkaba and Khayinga.