Motlanthe honours Liliesleaf legacy

The deputy president said those arrested at the farm in 1963 were the reason for SA's democracy.

Deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe. Picture:Christa Van der Walt/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Thursday marked the 50th anniversary of the infamous raid on Liliesleaf Farm in Rivonia, where a number of people were arrested in 1963.

The raid changed the course of struggle against apartheid as well as the country's history.

The raid also led to Nelson Mandela's arrest and ultimately, his 27-year imprisonment.

As President Jacob Zuma visited the ailing former president in hospital, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe spoke at the farm about Madiba's "omnipresence" there.

"Even as we converse here, his presence looms large and I think that's really the measure of the man."

Motlanthe said the day marked a major milestone in South African history.

"We have democracy today because the people who gathered here 50 years ago had a vision."

School pupils visiting the farm said the experience moved them.

"It really helps us understand what we've been through as a country," one learner said.

The events of 1963 were portrayed through a live reenactment which took place at the exact time a group of policemen jumped out of a fake dry-cleaning van to storm the farm.

Various other events were planned at the farm, including a gala dinner for some of those arrested with Mandela.

After his visit to Madiba, Zuma said the global icon continued to respond to treatment, but remained in a "critical but serious condition".