Andrew Mlangeni hailed for his commitment to making a better South Africa

The last Rivonia Trialist passed away on Tuesday at 95-years-old after a short illness.

FILE: Anti-Apartheid campaigner and former political prisoner Andrew Mlangeni at an event in Cannes. Picture: AFP

JOHANNESBURG - The Nelson Mandela, Thabo Mbeki, Oliver and Adelaide Tambo, and Ahmed Kathrada foundations have hailed anti-apartheid struggle stalwart Andrew Mlangeni for the mark he left with his commitment to a better South Africa.

The last Rivonia Trialist passed away on Tuesday at 95-years-old after a short illness.

Former President Thabo Mbeki said that Mlangeni and his widowed mother moved to Johannesburg in search of work because their family of farm labourers were evicted when his father passed away, and his passion for justice never died.

“From those humble beginnings was born and nurtured one who was to be driven by a passion for justice, a disdain for apartheid, and ultimately had the makings of a revolutionary,” the Thabo Mbeki Foundation said on Wednesday.

The foundation added: “To many South Africans he would have been known and admired for being a gentle and unassuming member of the otherwise elite forces of the revolutionaries of Robben Island. He was easy-going, much loved and always sensible in his utterances and exemplary in his conduct.

“As an MP he was truly an elder statesman, often the first to articulate the vision and ethics of the ANC and the national democratic revolution. In that way, he was a walking encyclopedia of the struggle to the younger generations and an embodiment of the values of the struggle to those who were in opposition to the ANC.”

'He was my everything': Sello Mlangeni on his father's passing

The Ahmed Kathrada Foundation said that Mlangeni abandoned his studies due to poverty and became a factory worker and a bus driver before he dedicated his life to the struggle for liberation.

The Nelson Mandela Foundation said that Mlangeni remained true to that dedication.

“Over the years, we worked with Ntate Mlangeni on multiple projects. He was always there for us, never expecting anything in return, quietly delivering on his promises. He would even decline a pick-up for an event, because, in his words, “I can get myself there you know.” He was content to be what he himself called ‘the back-room boy’. This was the title of his memoir, published in 2017.

“His contribution to the struggle for freedom in South Africa was enormous. One of the first cohort of Umkhonto we Sizwe freedom fighters, he was found guilty of sabotage in the “Rivonia Trial and spent 23 years in prison, most of them together with Nelson Mandela, on Robben Island and in Pollsmoor. In the democratic era, he served two decades in Parliament and was always a fearless conscience to the governing party. Awards came his way, but he always prioritised service,” the foundation said.

The Oliver & Adelaide Tambo Foundation said that it was now up to South Africans to take the baton Mlangeni has passed and continue to ensure the liberation of our great nation.

Graca Machel said that the death Mlangeni closed a glorious chapter of South Africa's struggle for freedom, which was led by an extraordinary generation of leaders.

Machel said that she got to know Mlangeni over many years because he was a brother to her late husband Nelson Mandela and the other Rivonia Trialists.

In a statement, she said that that generation of South African leadership was unique and young people should try to emulate their qualities of dignity, service and integrity.

Download the EWN app to your iOS or Android device.