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Famous Mandela trial to be digitised

By AFP

JOHANNESBURG (AFP) - Records of the 1964 trial where Nelson Mandela got a life sentence are to be digitised as part of archives of the life of South Africa's first black president, his foundation said on Thursday.

The Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory and Internet giant Google in March created online digital archives of Mandela's life, comprising thousands of handwritten documents, photographs and videos of Mandela.

These will soon include the Rivonia Trial of 10 anti-apartheid activists and members of the African National Congress that took place between 1963 and 1964.

"One of the key projects we will soon be embarking on is the digitisation of the Rivonia Trial trial records," Sello Hatang, spokesman of the centre told AFP.

"Once digitised, it will ensure records are available to a greater number of people and form part of the Nelson Mandela greater archives."

Though this digitisation will increase the records' accessibility, very few original documents are available, according to Verne Harris, head of the memory programme at the centre.

"Most of the Rivonia trial records are lost," he told the centre's donors on Thursday night.

Mandela was captured by police and sentenced in 1964 to life in prison during the Rivonia trial where he delivered a speech that was to become the manifesto of the anti-apartheid movement.

He was jailed on Robben Island for 18 years before being transferred in 1982 to Pollsmoor prison in Cape Town and later to Victor Verster prison in nearby Paarl.