Curtain falls on last Rivonia trialist

Curtain falls on last Rivonia trialist

Old rock: Veteran freedom fighter Andrew Mlangeni with SABC journalist Annie Mokoena

The last surviving member of the notorious Rivonia Trial, Andrew Mlangeni has passed away. He was 95 years old. Mlangeni who lived in Dube, Soweto, had abdominal complaints. He was rushed to 1 Military Hospital in Thaba Tshwane, Pretoria, where he died in the early hours of Wednesday (22/07/2020).

He was an anti-apartheid activist and left the country to train as the ANC military wing, uMkhonto we Sizwe soldier in 1961. He was arrested in 1963 on his return to South Africa, and charged with recruiting and training the armed force.

Some of his comrades were arrested at Liliesleaf Farm in Rivonia, north of Johannesburg. The farm was a headquarters of the underground South African Communist Party and a safe house for political fugitives.

He and his 155 comrades were sentenced to life imprisonment on Robben Island. The trial started in October 1963 to June 1964. Their sentence was commuted to life imprisonment. His comrades included Ahmed Kathrada, Raymond Mhlaba, Govan Mbeki, Elias Motswaledi, walter sisulu.

Mlangeni served 26 years in prison. He was released in 1989 at the dawn of the democratic South Africa. He served as a member of parliament for the ANC from 1994 to 1999.

President Cyril Ramaphosa laments that Mlangeni left a huge responsibility in this generation’s hands. “The passing of Andrew Mlangeni signifies the end of a generational history and places our future squarely in our hands. Until recently, we were able to sit at Bab’Mlangeni’s feet and draw on his wealth of wisdom and his unfailing commitment – even at his very advanced age – to a better life for all South Africans,” says President Ramaphosa.