The last surviving Rivonia trialist, Andrew Mlangeni, has passed away.
Mlangeni, who celebrated his 95th birthday last month, was admitted at 1 Military Hospital following an abdominal complaint on Tuesday. He passed away overnight.
President Ramaphosa has since paid tribute to the fallen hero and offered his sincere condolences to the Mlangeni family, as well as the friends, comrades and associates of the struggle hero countrywide and internationally.
The President also participated in Mlangeni’s birthday celebration last month in the company of President Thabo Mbeki, President Kgalema Motlanthe and Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, among others.
President Ramaphosa said: “The passing of Andrew Mekete 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,” he said.
“Bab’ Mlangeni’s dramatic life was a unique example of heroism and humility inhabiting the same person and throughout his long life he remained a beacon of ethical leadership and care for humanity in our own country and around the globe.”
President Ramaphosa said his passing as the last remaining Rivonia trialist, 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.
The President also described him as a champion and exemplar of the values we all need to build for a South Africa that provides dignity and opportunity for all and takes its rightful place in the global community of nations.
“My thoughts are with the Mlangeni Family today and with all who have had the blessing of meeting and being touched by Bab’ Mlangeni’s passion for achieving a better society as well as his passion for a life that is well-rounded, adventurous, healthy and embracing of people from all walks of life.”
Forced to leave school at a young age to take care of his family, Mlangeni became a bus driver. He joined the worker’s struggle and then the ANC Youth League in 1951.
He was present at the Congress of the People in Kliptown in 1955 and sent to China for military training in 1961. Mlangeni was one of the Rivonia Trialists – he spent 26 years on Robben Island after his conviction at the Rivonia Trial in 1964.
Mlangeni was awarded the Isithwalandwe Seaparankwe, the highest honour by the African National Congress for those who have made an outstanding contribution to the liberation struggle in 1992 and received the Presidential Order for Meritorious Service: Class 1: Gold from President Nelson Mandela in 1999.