The CIA and the 1962 Arrest of Nelson Mandela

This past week the Sunday Times in South Africa, and various other news agencies, reported on interviews with a dying CIA operative, Donald Rickard, who acknowledged the agency’s involvement in the arrest of Nelson Mandela that facilitated South Africa’s first democratically elected president’s 28 years of incarceration. So what’s the surprise?

West Africans and southern Africans alike always assumed both CIA and KGB presence in colonial Africa. There was a common joke saying that if you dropped in at hotel happy hour in Luanda, Lusaka, or Maputo you could identify both the Americans and Russians. People even had memories of KGB and CIA operatives sharing tables.

While I can’t corroborate the last assertion, I can affirm that the hundreds of South African struggle veterans that I have interviewed believed that both South Africa’s Special Branch and the United States’ CIA were ever present. In fact, some of the individuals I interviewed, in spite of the assurances of leaders in the struggle, believed that I had to have Central Intelligence Agency ties because I had come to South Africa on a Fulbright in 1999.

But back to the CIA and Nelson Mandela. Throughout my research for Ruth First and Joe Slovo in the War against Apartheid I never came across the name Donald Rickard. In 1958, Ruth and Joe hosted a party that celebrated acquittals in the infamous Treason Trial. Many of the individuals who the state had charged attended and like all of the First/Slovo parties, it was a multiracial affair. Mandela did not come to the party as his presence was deemed as dangerous.

In fact, according to Mandela’s biographer, Anthony Sampson, the CIA agent who four years later tipped off the South African Special Branch leading to Mandela’s arrest, Millard Shirley, was at the party. Shirley presumably died in an automobile crash in Switzerland in 1990. Newsweek reported on his CIA work in South Africa in the 1980s and even the Truth and Reconciliation Commission probed his part in Mandela’s arrest.

This isn’t a new story. Like the fuzziness surrounding the intricacies of Shirley’s involvement, the Rickard interview is no less obtuse. It is hard to get a definitive portrayal of CIA-Special Branch collaboration in Madiba’s arrest. But of course we shouldn’t be surprised. The record of CIA intrusions throughout the world is well documented and not in question. The ANC underground always assumed CIA presence.

Obviously, Donald Rickard is no Snowden and present ANC calls for CIA transparency regarding Mandela’s arrest will fall on deaf ears. However, if nothing else, we have another example of Amerika’s political/corporate continuing insidious covert attempts to rule the world.

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
March 16, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Michael Uhl
The Tip of the Iceberg: My Lai Fifty Years On
Bruce E. Levine
School Shootings: Who to Listen to Instead of Mainstream Shrinks
Mel Goodman
Caveat Emptor: MSNBC and CNN Use CIA Apologists for False Commentary
Paul Street
The Obama Presidency Gets Some Early High Historiography
Kathy Deacon
Me, My Parents and Red Scares Long Gone
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Rexless Abandon
Andrew Levine
Good Enemies Are Hard To Find: Therefore Worry
Jim Kavanagh
What to Expect From a Trump / Kim Summit
Ron Jacobs
Trump and His Tariffs
Joshua Frank
Drenched in Crude: It’s an Oil Free For All, But That’s Not a New Thing
Gary Leupp
What If There Was No Collusion?
Matthew Stevenson
Why Vietnam Still Matters: Bernard Fall Dies on the Street Without Joy
Robert Fantina
Bad to Worse: Tillerson, Pompeo and Haspel
Brian Cloughley
Be Prepared, Iran, Because They Want to Destroy You
Richard Moser
What is Organizing?
Scott McLarty
Working Americans Need Independent Politics
Rohullah Naderi
American Gun Violence From an Afghan Perspective
Sharmini Peries - Michael Hudson
Why Trump’s Tariff Travesty Will Not Re-Industrialize the US
Ted Rall
Democrats Should Run on Impeachment
Robert Fisk
Will We Ever See Al Jazeera’s Investigation Into the Israel Lobby?
Kristine Mattis
Superunknown: Scientific Integrity Within the Academic and Media Industrial Complexes
John W. Whitehead
Say No to “Hardening” the Schools with Zero Tolerance Policies and Gun-Toting Cops
Edward Hunt
UN: US Attack On Syrian Civilians Violated International Law
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Iraq Outside History
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: The Long Hard Road
Victor Grossman
Germany: New Faces, Old Policies
Medea Benjamin - Nicolas J. S. Davies
The Iraq Death Toll 15 Years After the US Invasion
Binoy Kampmark
Amazon’s Initiative: Digital Assistants, Home Surveillance and Data
Chuck Collins
Business Leaders Agree: Inequality Hurts The Bottom Line
Jill Richardson
What We Talk About When We Talk About “Free Trade”
Eric Lerner – Jay Arena
A Spark to a Wider Fire: Movement Against Immigrant Detention in New Jersey
Negin Owliaei
Teachers Deserve a Raise: Here’s How to Fund It
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
What to Do at the End of the World? Interview with Climate Crisis Activist, Kevin Hester
Kevin Proescholdt
Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke Attacks America’s Wilderness
Franklin Lamb
Syrian War Crimes Tribunals Around the Corner
Beth Porter
Clean Energy is Calling. Will Your Phone Company Answer?
George Ochenski
Zinke on the Hot Seat Again and Again
Lance Olsen
Somebody’s Going to Extremes
Robert Koehler
Breaking the Ice
Pepe Escobar
The Myth of a Neo-Imperial China
Graham Peebles
Time for Political Change and Unity in Ethiopia
Terry Simons
10 American Myths “Refutiated”*
Thomas Knapp
Some Questions from the Edge of Immortality
Louis Proyect
The 2018 Socially Relevant Film Festival
David Yearsley
Keaton’s “The General” and the Pernicious Myths of the Heroic South