page 1b - NMF_Smuggled_Letter_2_002.jpg


Identity area

Reference code

ZA COM NMAP 2010/9-1-2-1b




  • January 1977 (Creation)

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Extent and medium

1 page ; 19 x 9 cm

Context area

Name of creator

(18 July 1918-5 December 2013)

Biographical history

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Judge Thumba Pillay
Accession number NMPP and AP 2010/9

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Scope and content

This item consists of a letter written by Nelson Mandela to the legal firm of Seedat Pillay & Co. that was smuggled out of Robben Island Prison. Mandela wished to appoint the firm to act on his behalf in legal proceedings against the Department of Prisons. Since the authorities refused to allow him contact with his attorneys, he had to use this "illegal" method to seek legal representation.

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Access by permission of the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory

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Copyright held by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory

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  • English

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Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory

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groups in the single cell section where I live and trying to foment feelings of hostility amongst us.
Improper interference with social relations. After setting out the facts in support of this allegation I added, β€˜I now consider the untruthful explanations that are repeatedly made by the local officials about our correspondence and the so-called objection either to the contents of the letter or person who wrote it as a mere technique to deprive us of the legal right of preserving good relationships, between ourselves and our relatives and friends.’
Censorship of outgoing mail. As has often happened in the past, the birthday card I sent to my daughter in Dec. 75 did not reach her. Last Feb I wrote to my wife and regretted the fact. I also referred to photos my daughter repeatedly sent me and that had disappeared without trace. The C.O. objected to this paragraph. My daughter plays rugby and in another letter I advised her to pay attention to her diet. I was asked to remove the passage. My grandniece wished to study LL.B and I wrote and requested Mrs F. Kentridge of the JHB [Johannesburg] Bar to advise her on law as a profession for women. Lt. Prins first asked me to remove this particular paragraph and some wks [weeks] after I had handed in the altered letter I was then told that it would not be sent to her because the Dpt now objected to her person. I concluded, β€˜To prevent me from telling my wife that I sent my daughter a birthday card which did not reach her, that I always think of her and that the photos she had posted to me had disappeared is unreasonable and based neither on security considerations nor on the desire to maintain good order and discipline nor to promote my welfare. The same applied to my letter to Mrs Kentridge. . .’
Censorship of Incoming Correspondence. But the worst abuses in regard to the censoring of letters are committed in regard

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