Struggle icon Andrew Mlangeni dies aged 95

Struggle icon Andrew Mlangeni dies aged 95

Anti-apartheid stalwart, Andrew Mlangeni, has died at the age of 95.

Andrew Mlangeni - AFP

The Presidency says it's deeply saddened by the news, adding that his legacy as a selfless freedom fighter, lives on. 

He was imprisoned along with former president, Nelson Mandela, after being convicted of treason and sabotage 1964.

Mlangeni who celebrated his birthday last month was the last surviving Rivonia trialist and had spent more than 20 years on Robben Island. 

He was admitted to a Pretoria hospital following an abdominal issue. 

Paying tribute to the struggle veteran, President Cyril Ramaphosa said Mlangeni's dramatic life was a unique example of heroism and humility. 

He says throughout his long life, Mlangeni remained a beacon of ethical leadership and cared for humanity in our country and around the globe.

Born in the Johannesburg township of Soweto, he joined the youth wing of the National African Congress (ANC) in the early 1950s.

In the early 1960s, he was among the first groups of liberation fighters to be sent outside of South Africa for military training.

When he returned two years later, he was arrested.

The eight-month Rivonia Trial, named after the Johannesburg suburb where the ANC leaders were arrested, brought the struggle against apartheid to world attention.

Expecting to be sentenced to death, Mandela declared in a three-hour speech from the dock that freedom was "an ideal for which I am prepared to die."

Instead, he, Mlangeni and fellow leaders Ahmed Kathrada and Dennis Goldberg were sentenced to life imprisonment.

Mlangeni served 26 years behind bars before his release.

With the advent of democracy, Mlangeni served as a member of parliament under the now-ruling ANC from 1994 to 1999. 

He was awarded the Isithwalandwe Seaparankwe, the ANC's highest honour, in 1992.

Seven years later, he received the Presidential Order for meritorious service from Mandela himself.

Among recognition abroad, Mlangeni was honoured with the freedom of the City of London in 2018.

The liberation icon lost his wife June, with whom he had four children, in 2001.

The ANC described him as one of the most outstanding fighters and humble servants in the fight for freedom.

"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. 

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