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Reference code

ZA COM NMAP 2010/9-1-2-3b




  • January 1977 (Creation)

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1 page ; 19 x 9 cm

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(18 July 1918-5 December 2013)

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Judge Thumba Pillay
Accession number NMPP and AP 2010/9

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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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  • English

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Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory

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No explanation was given as to why this yr [year] he repeatedly told me that the money had not been received nor why the money was not shown as having been credited to my account in the statement supplied to me by the accounts section.
I must tell you that the negligent manner in which my complaints have been investigated and the lengthy delays involved in extracting simple information on what are essentially trust moneys is a matter of serious concern which you ought to investigate as soon as you can and clear the reputation of your Dpt at least in this particular respect.
Political discussions at the sittings of the Prison Board. It has been the practice for several yrs now at these sittings for its members to engage prisoners in political discussions. These discussions are used by the Board for the purpose of victimizing those who are opposed to the policy of separate development.
COP’s [Commissioner of Prisons] failure to visit political prisoners on R.I. [Robben Island]. The abuses described above are aggravated by your failure to visit the island and to give us the opportunity of discussing these problems directly with you. A visit by other officials from H.O. [Head Office] whatever their rank may be, can be no substitute for a visit by the Head of the Dpt in person.
One of the main causes of the friction here is the link between this Dpt and the Security Police and one of the first steps in your attempt to address our grievances is to cut that link completely. Many prisoners regard the COP in regard to all matters concerning us as a mere figurehead and that the real boss is the chief of the S.P. [Security Police] who orders the COP not only what to do but how to do it.
I have been wondering whether I should continue to be party to a practice I consider unethical and which gives the impression that I still enjoy rights and privileges which have been so whittled away that they have become practically valueless.
But I still believe that you as Head of this Dpt who holds the rank of General will not

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