Liliesleaf, one of South Africa’s foremost national heritage sites, is sad to announce yet again it has been forced to close its doors, but this time indefinitely.

For several years Liliesleaf has faced a funding crisis, which has been compounded and exacerbated by the impact of COVID. Despite the successful efforts in raising funds from corporates and the public, who showed great generosity in coming to the aid of Liliesleaf, earlier in the year through a Crowdfunding initiative, the funds raised only helped so far. Liliesleaf has been living on borrowed time ever since.

The closure of Liliesleaf has yet again demonstrated the abject failure of the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture to provide the financial support so desperately needed by Liliesleaf and the sector as a whole at this critical time in our history and struggle for survival.


Outbuildings at Liliesleaf (The Heritage Portal)



Between 1961 and 1963, Liliesleaf served as the secret headquarters and nerve centre of the ANC, SACP, Umkhonto we Sizwe and the Congress Alliance. It was at Liliesleaf farm that the overthrow of the apartheid regime was discussed, and leaders of the liberation movement took refuge in their struggle for a non-racial, just, free, and democratic South Africa.


Old photo of Liliesleaf Farm (Liliesleaf)


On 11 July 1963, the police, acting on a tip-off, raided the farm and arrested the core of the underground liberation movement leadership. They along with others were eventually put on trial to face charges of 193 counts of sabotage against the state. Nelson Mandela became Accused Number 1 and with him in the dock were Walter Sisulu, Denis Goldberg, Govan Mbeki, Ahmed Kathrada, Lionel ‘Rusty’ Bernstein, Raymond Mhlaba, James Kantor, Elias Motsoaledi and Andrew Mlangeni.

Kantor and Bernstein were acquitted but the other eight were found guilty and sentenced to life in prison. The raid on Liliesleaf and the subsequent imprisonment of the core leadership of the liberation movement dealt a hammer blow to the liberation movement and the internal resistance to apartheid.

Issued by The Liliesleaf Trust. For additional information please contact Nicholas Wolpe, Founder & CEO of The Liliesleaf Trust on 083 377 3533 or email

Wednesday, September 1, 2021 - 05:49

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