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Mandela's Case Misstated?

November 09, 1986

I would like to point out that in Jonathan Kirsch's review of two paperback books on Nelson Mandela (The Book Review, Oct. 5), there are certain misstatements that should not be permitted to go unchallenged.

The opening sentence of the review: "By the brutal if simple expedient of imprisoning him, the government of South Africa has succeeded in cutting off Nelson Mandela from his family, his people, his work, his leadership of the South African Liberation movement." Because South Africa is "fair game" for almost any form of condemnation in the media, it is rare for the criticism to be subjected to the constraints of objectivity. However, Nelson Mandela, as a proven ringleader in the 1963 Rivonia case involving massive plans for sabotage and other subversion, was convicted for his substantial part in the "Mkhonto we Sizwe" (Spear of the Nation) plot organized largely by the mostly white communist elite led by Arthur Goldreich, Joe Slovo, his wife Ruth First, Harold Wolpe, Dennis Goldberg, Michael Harmel, Lionel Bernstein, James Kantor, Mohammed Kathrada, Bob Hepple and Walter Sisulu. The then chairman of the SACP was the late Abraham Fischer. Fischer defended Mandela, and after he was sentenced to life imprisonment, Slovo's wife Ruth First led the party until her death by a bomb in Maputo. Now Joe Slovo heads both the SACP and the ANC terror wing from his London office.

Contrary to Kirsch's remarks, Mandela was transferred from Robben Island to the mainland a few years ago. The domination of the ANC and its and Mandela's collaboration with the SACP is well established. And to compare Mandela with Jefferson and Washington is grotesque. Such a comparison is logically between those founding fathers and Paul Kruger, Marthinus Steyn of the Orange Free State or perhaps Jan Smuts.

J. P. LOTT

Los Angeles

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