Minister Nathi Mthethwa on DSAC Legend and the last standing Baobab giant of the Rivonia trial, Andrew Mlangeni


22 July 2020

This morning we woke up to the news of the passing of one of our legends and the only remaining Rivonia trialist, Andrew Mlangeni. A warrior who outlived apartheid colonialism, a giant who outmaneuvered his jailers and a combatant who outsmarted the apartheid ideologues, Andrew Mlangeni served his people with sacrificial distinction. His passing has reunited the Rivonia trialists who were incarcerated by an inhumane regime. The news of his death comes just weeks after his birthday celebration, where Minister Nathi Mthethwa participated.

95 years ago, in the month of June, we were blessed with a political legend, a struggle stalwart, an Isithwalandwe / Seaparankoe, a political giant who served the cause of peace, justice and social progress with dignity, honour and with a determination of steel. On his birthday last month, we gathered to pay tribute to a legend who fought an unjust government. As it were,June is also the month that our country and our people have set aside as Youth Month.

Minister Nathi Mthethwa said “Bab’Mlangeni was a true servant of the people. A humble man who preferred to be remembered as one of the ‘backroom boys’. We are honoured to have been granted the opportunity to celebrate and to serve Bab’ Mlangeni whilst he was still alive. To give him flowers whilst he could still smell them. On the occasion of his 95th birthday, we were accorded the platform to tell him that he will always be referred to as a stalwart of the struggle for a free South Africa. He will always remain a formidable force and a freedom stalwart”.

“The 26 years of his life that he spent in incarceration played a tremendous and immeasurable contribution to the end of apartheid which in my opinion, is extremely profound as it cemented his legacy as a true stalwart. After his incarceration, he emerged as one of the respected members of his beloved movement, the African National Congress and he epitomised the values that made a democratic South Africa possible.

Prisoner 467/64 was the last remaining trialist,a next door neighbour to inmate Nelson Mandela, acclaimed prisoner number 466/64. His legacy will continue through the June and Andrew Mlangeni Foundation.

Andrew Mlangeni was a veteran Golfer with 14 as his handicap and a larger than life character. The relationship between Bab’ Mlangeni’s foundation and the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture dates back 9 years. Our combined vision feeds into the Department’s strategic objectives of ensuring that there is equal access to sport and recreation events across all races.

Therefore, through the Golf Development Chapter, the Andrew Mlangeni Golf Day and the Andrew Mlangeni Green Jacket Award, we will continue to uphold his legacy. These platforms recognise that Andrew Mlangeni was truly a South African legend worthy of the honour bestowed upon him.

Furthermore, in 2016,the Department launched the Rivonia Trial digitally, with the then remaining trialists in attendance (Andrew Mlangeni, Ahmed Kathrada and Denis Goldberg). This was a partnership that began in 2012 with a French Audio-Visual Institute called INA, who provided the National Archives and Records Services of South Africa (NARSSA) with the completed digitised preservation copies and most of the digitised restored copies of all the Dictabelts on external hard drives.After being digitised, using specialised audio-visual equipment, a symbolic handover of the returned original Dictabelts from the French-based institute to the Minister of the then Arts and Culture Department, Mr Nathi Mthethwa took place at the Courtroom in the Palace of Justice where the trial took place.

As a result, the entire trial can now be viewed ditigitally from beginning to end. This was one way to honour Andrew Mlangeni and other Rivonia trialists, who for the first time,had the opportunity to listen to their own voices during the trial.The public is now able to log in and listen to the trial and this was the gift that the Department gave to these brave freedom fighters, the “A-list” who have now been reunited in eternity.

In his final interview with the SABC, Andrew Mlangeni called for young people to take up the spear and to fight for a better life for all. What remains of his legacy is for our generation to fulfill its own mission.

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Media Enquiries:
Masechaba Khumalo: Spokesperson (Minister) Tel: 066 380 7408| Email: MasechabaK@dsac.gov.za
Mr Mickey Modisane: Chief Director Marketing and Communications (Sport) Tel: 082 992 0101| Email: MickeyM@dsac.gov.za
Ms Zimasa Velaphi: Marketing and Communications (Arts and Culture) Tel: 072 172 8925| Email: ZimasaV@dsac.gov.za