- 1976 - (Creation)
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gave us a lot of trouble. I took up the matter with chief magistrate Silk and he pointed out that we could either remand them at the rate of one at a time, which would be a protracted affair, or all of them at one sitting. For obvious reasons I preferred the latter and suggested that we should hold the court in the basement where there would be enough room for the purpose, a suggestion which Silk welcomed.
As Silk and the presiding magistrate and I walked to the basement my friend Benjamin Pogrund, reporter for the Rand Daily Mail, with note bok and pencil in hand, asked Silk whether the press would be allowed to attend the "secret court in the basement". "In that case the accused will have to be remanded one by one in this court" burst out the official. I knew exactly what that meant. The case started at 9.30 a.m. and I arranged with attorney Natvar Patel, who lived in town to relieve me at 4.30 p.m. He worked until 12 midnight when the last woman was remanded.
As the cases dragged on many women began to lose interest in the proceedings and simply stayed away from the court. Some would tell me bluntly: "I am tired of your troubles, Mandela. If this thing does not end today you won't see me here again." One woman arrived in court after lunch happy and unconcerned. When I asked her where she had been she told me she had been busy brewing liquor for sale, adding that that was her only source of livelyhood. As the brewing of liquor was a criminal offence I could not offer this explanation to the court. I simply reported her presence and promised to go into the matter after which I would offer an explanation to the presiding officer.