President Cyril Ramaphosa has described the late Andrew Mlangeni as not only a great patriot but a strident moral voice in the country.
The last surviving member of the Rivonia trial, who turned 95 on 6 June 2020, was admitted to 1 Military Hospital in Thaba Tshwane, Pretoria, on Tuesday, 14 July 2020, following an abdominal complaint. He passed away last Tuesday on 21 July 2020.
Described by the President as a product of the golden age of the struggle, Mlangeni was laid to rest at the Roodepoort cemetery on Wednesday.
President Ramaphosa delivered the eulogy at Mlangeni’s funeral, in which he called for Mlangeni’s passing to evoke a new era in the country.
“If his passing does indeed mark the end of an era, we must ask of ourselves the question: what now? What shall define this new era, our era? Will it be an age of increasing prosperity and security for all? Will it represent the realisation of the dream of the Freedom Charter, of a country that truly belongs to all who live in it, black and white?
“Will it witness the emergence of a new generation of young leaders – women and men of extraordinary talent, integrity and resolve, who dedicate their lives to the service of humanity?
“This is a question to which all of us who gathered here – whether in person or virtually or in spirit – hold the answer,” he said.
In honouring the last of the Rivonia trial members, President Ramaphosa said its through the actions of every citizen that the country will define this new era.
“It is through the principles that we observe, the values that we hold dear and through the responsibilities that we each take upon ourselves that we will forge a new society,” said President Ramaphosa.
Mlangeni’s children, his daughter Sylvia Mlangeni and Sello Mlangeni, said the loss of their father left them cold and devastated.
“Papa was a loving person but at the same time, he was someone we all went to when we had problems. He lived a fulfilling life. We are really in pain but this shall come to pass,” said Sylvia.
With the country now faced with the COVID-19 pandemic, President Ramaphosa said it was time for the country to deepen its resolve.
Borrowing from the words penned nearly 60 years ago in the UMkhonto we Sizwe manifesto on 16 December 1961, President Ramaphosa said the time comes in the life of any nation when there remain only two choices: submit or fight.
“That time has now come to South Africa. We shall not submit and we have no choice but to hit back by all means within our power in defence of our people, our future and our freedom,” quoted the President.
In reference to the fight against COVID-19, the President said the country will fight against the virus in defence of the health of its people.
“It is now our solemn responsibility to build the glorious future to which he dedicated his life. We say today, may his soul rest in peace. Hamba kahle Mkhonto, tsamaya ka kgotso Motlokwa,” said the President.
At his funeral service, the South African National Defenc1e Force honoured Bab Mlangeni and appointed him as honorary colonel.
Bab’ Mlangeni, who joined the ANC in 1954, was in 1992 awarded Isithwalandwe Seaparankwe – the highest honour by the African National Congress for those who have made an outstanding contribution to the liberation struggle – and received the Presidential Order for Meritorious Service: Class 1: Gold from President Nelson Mandela in 1999.