19 JUNE 1964, Page 11

How Long is Life?

The Rivonia trial seemed to prove many things, some of, them almost inconvenient to those who protested in advance. Judge de Wet is not a stooge of the South African Govern- ment. The accused were guilty and proud of their guilt. So Nelson Mandela and his com- rades go to prison for life, or perhaps until the revolution comes. As the Guardian put it, 'Within the terms of the Afrikaner State the verdict and the sentence alike are proper.'

Understandably .the protests in Trafalgar Square seemed somewhat muted. Anthony Wedgwood Benn, who had been most splendidly slain by Bernard Levin for suggesting (in the context of South-West Africa) that it might be necessary for UN troops to 'march on Windhoek,' undertook the shorter and safer trek to Downing Street.

What now? Of course, in the end those who fight for freedom will win : they always do: how can those who sympathise help? No one really knows. But I am sure that the road to peace does not lie through Trafalgar Square.