Andrew Mekete Mlangeni, the last surviving anti-apartheid activist convicted during the Rivonia Trial, has died at the age of 95 on Wednesday, July 22.
He was admitted to 1 Military Hospital in Thaba Tshwane, Pretoria with an abdominal complaint on Tuesday, July 21.
“A giant tree has fallen. Andrew Mlangeni, the last surviving Rivonia trialist, is no more. A selfless struggle veteran, he dedicated his life to fighting injustice & spent more than 20 years on Robben Island. Isithwalandwe Andrew Mlangeni, your legacy lives on,” the President’s Twitter account wrote.
Mlangeni joined the ANC Youth League in 1951 and the ANC in 1954. According to his biography, Mlangeni was chosen by former president Nelson Mandela to be among the first sent overseas for training. He went to China to learn bomb-making, booby traps and secret communication techniques.
Upon his return to the country in 1963, Mlangeni held a high position in the armed wing of the ANC, Umkhonto we Sizwe. He was eventually arrested after being accused of recruiting and training people for this armed force. He was tried along with the rest of the Rivonia trialists and was sentenced to life imprisonment on Robben Island.
He was released in 1989 and served as a member of Parliament as part of the new South African government until 1999. He served in the National Assembly from 2009 until his retirement in 2014.
Tributes for the struggle veteran have been flooding social media since his death was announced.
“He was a champion and exemplar of the values we need to build a South Africa that provides dignity and opportunity for all and which takes its rightful place in the global community of nations,” said President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Our condolences go out to the Mlangeni family.
Tata #AndrewMlangeni’s integrity shone through timelessly. I could always count on him. He was the same always untainted by favor seeking. I will cherish memories of him calling just to say “Carry on – we have your back” Heartfelt condolences to loved ones #RIPAndrewMlangeni pic.twitter.com/m8mGf6Uag2
— Prof Thuli Madonsela (@ThuliMadonsela3) July 22, 2020
— Dr Zweli Mkhize (@DrZweliMkhize) July 22, 2020
BREAKING NEWS: The last remaining Rivonia trialist #AndrewMlangeni has passed away. He recently turned 95.
This is the end of an era.
Rest in Peace Ntate Mlangeni. You have given so much, go rest with your comrades, the giants of our history, your place amongst them awaits. pic.twitter.com/k1IyqXDnR7
— CATHERINE Constantinides (@ChangeAgentSA) July 22, 2020
Saddened by the passing of Tamkhulu #AndrewMlangeni. The last of the Rivonia trialists. Someone who committed his life to South Africa’s liberation. Lala ngoxolo sithwalwandwe. Siyabulela ✊ pic.twitter.com/eE9I5ErLL1
— Dr. Sithembile Mbete (@sthembete) July 22, 2020
Lala Ngoxolo Nkokheli yethu! You were a leading light to South Africa and we all can express gratitude for the incredible life you lived and sacrificed for our freedom. #andrewmlangeni pic.twitter.com/jcYRMgmT7r
— Mmusi Maimane (@MmusiMaimane) July 22, 2020
#AndrewMlangeni, a story.
It’s 1993. Mlangeni is Head of Transport, ANC HQ. I go to ‘transport’ to book a car. There’s a long & noisy queue of people, mainly drivers,summoned by Mlangeni. He’s on a warpath, checking every requisition, mileage,fuel slips & god knows what else.
— Nomboniso Gasa (@nombonisogasa) July 22, 2020