We mourn the death of Andrew Mlangeni on 22 July 2020 – our patron, struggle hero and last of the Rivonia trialists – after a lifetime of service. Coming so soon after the death in April of Denis Goldberg, this is a double blow. The lessons and legacy of all Mandela’s comrades will continue to teach and inspire.
Andrew Mlangeni is a fellow Rivonia trialist of Nelson Mandela.
Andrew was convicted in 1964 at the same trial as Nelson Mandela and Denis Goldberg and spent 26 years in Robben Island prison for fighting apartheid.
Before the judgement was passed, Andrew Mlangeni told the court: “Though leaders of many countries throughout the world have tried to persuade the Government to abandon its apartheid policy, and although resolutions have been passed in the United Nations against South Africa, this has met with no result. All that the Government has done is to reply to the people’s demands by putting their political leaders in gaol, and breaking up families”
In 1944 Andrew enrolled at St Peters Secondary School where Oliver Tambo, the former President of the ANC was one of the teachers. He went on to join the ANC Youth League and led the ANC Dube branch delegation to Kliptown where the Freedom charter was launched.
He was arrested in 1963 and sentenced to life imprisonment. While on Robben Island, he obtained a degree in Political Science and Public Administration. He also graduated with a BA honours in Political Science. Upon his release in 1989, he continued to study a law degree, which he did not complete because of his work for the ANC preparing for the first democratic elections, which the ANC won with a huge majority. He became a Member of Parliament in 1994.
He is the recipient of several awards including the ANC Isithwalandwe award, the highest honour awarded by the ANC to those who have made an outstanding contribution and sacrifice to the liberation struggle, as well as The Order for Meritorius Service Class 1 (Gold) in 1999 (then the country’s highest honour, awarded to South Africans who have rendered exceptional public service).
See also The Andrew Mlangeni Foundation