Following the ratification of the Freedom Charter in
1955, the South African government cracked down on the left wing organisations involved. In 1956, following
extensive searches of various homes and confiscation of documents, 156 people were arrested for treason. By
November 1960 64 of these had been released. In March 1961 the courts found that there was insufficient
evidence to prove that the accused had intended to overthrow the government by violent means. However, the
Treason Trial had put a severe financial burden on the ANC and the rest of the Congress Alliance.
Moments in Apartheid: The Treason Trial
In response to the adoption of the Freedom Charter at the Congress of the People, the Apartheid government in
South Africa arrested a total 156 people for high treason. The punishment for this was death.