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S. African anti-apartheid activist Mlangeni dies

July 22, 2020

He was the last remaining survivor of the historic Rivonia Trial that sentenced activists like Nelson Mandela to life imprisonment. His death signaled "the end of a generational history," said President Ramaphosa.

Andrew Mlangeni
Image: Getty Images/AFP/

South African anti-apartheid activist Andrew Mlangeni has died at the age of 95 in the capital, Pretoria.

Mlangeni was sentenced alongside Nelson Mandela, Dennis Goldberg, Walter Sisulu and other activists in the infamous 1963 – 1964 Rivonia Trial for planning to overthrow the white-minority government that oversaw the racist apartheid system.

He subsequently served 26 years in prison.

Mlangeni died after being hospitalized in the capital on Tuesday night, suffering from abdominal pains, South Africa's presidency said in a statement

Read more: South Africa: From the ashes of apartheid

President Cyril Ramaphosa paid tribute to Mlangeni, saying his death signified "the end of a generational history."

"With his passing as the last remaining Rivonia Trialist, Bab'Mlangeni has indeed passed the baton to his compatriots to build the South Africa he fought to liberate and to reconstruct during our democratic dispensation," Ramaphosa said.

Mlangeni's political life

Mlangeni was born in 1925. In 1951, he joined the youth wing of the now-governing African National Congress (ANC) that was fighting against the white minority government and the apartheid system.

Mlangeni was later sent abroad for military training.

On his return in 1963, he was arrested and stood trial alongside seven others in what became known as the Rivonia Trial — named after the suburb of Johannesburg where some of them were arrested.

He served his decades-long sentence on Robben Island prison, the main jail used at the time for Black male anti-apartheid prisoners.

After his release, Mlangeni served as a lawmaker in South Africa's first democratic parliament from 1994.

In his later years, he was chairman of the integrity committee of the ruling ANC Party, which was responsible for investigating corruption allegations against its leaders.

'A courageous generation'

"His passing sounds the last post on a courageous generation of South Africans who forfeited their freedom, careers, family lives and health so that we could all be free," the foundation of former South African archbishop Desmond Tutu and his wife, Leah, said in a statement.

"Death has robbed the people of South Africa of one of its finest sons, who valued the freedom of his people more than his own life and personal comfort," the ANC said.

Read more: South Africa marks 25 years since end of apartheid

kmm/sms (AFP, Reuters, AP)