Stephen Lee was arrested in 1978 while completing his Master’s Degree in Sociology at the University of Cape Town. At the time he was a British citizen with dual British-South African nationality as a result of his parents living in South Africa for 30 years.
During 1974/75 he spent time in the UK and was a member of the Transport General Workers’ Union while working as a bus conductor in London.
He was tried in the Cape Town Supreme Court from 7 – 15 June 1978 and was charged with helping to produce and distribute pamphlets for the ANC and SACP. An alternative charge was that he participated in ANC, SACP and MK activities.
He was said to have helped in the production and distribution of 18 different pamphlets for banned organisations. He pleaded guilty to all charges and admitted to his involvement in the display of a banner reading ‘The ANC lives’ from the seventh floor of a Cape Town building.
He was found guilty on the main count and sentenced to eight years’ imprisonment in Pretoria Local prison from which he escaped in 1979 with Tim Jenkin and Alex Moumbaris.