Late struggle stalwart Denis Goldberg. File Picture: Dumisani Sibeko/African News Agency(ANA)
Late struggle stalwart Denis Goldberg. File Picture: Dumisani Sibeko/African News Agency(ANA)

Denis Goldberg – an outspoken stalwart not blinded by personal accolades

By Jonisayi Maromo Time of article published Apr 30, 2020

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Pretoria – The Ahmed Kathrada Foundation on Thursday described late anti-apartheid stalwart Denis Goldberg as a politically unflinching patriot whose political consciousness was not blinded by personal accolades.

“Denis Goldberg remained an ANC member until the end. His political consciousness was never blunted by the personal accolades offered to him and he never hesitated to criticise his organisation, or its leaders, when things went wrong,” the foundation said on Thursday.

“He was outspoken and vociferous in his criticism over corruption in government and state capture. This he did on numerous occasions publicly.”

The Kathrada Foundation said it was “deeply honoured” by its historical association with the late Goldberg.

“He will be remembered not as a white man living and enjoying enormous socio-economic and political benefits under the system of apartheid, but as a truly African revolutionary who was prepared to make the supreme sacrifice for the liberation of the black majority in South Africa,” the foundation said in tribute to Goldberg, who passed away on Wednesday.

Goldberg, who celebrated his 87th birthday earlier this month, passed away just before midnight on Wednesday following a battle with cancer.

He spent more than two decades in prison after being convicted in the Rivonia Trial. After his release, he spent several years in exile, working for the ANC in London from 1985 to 1994.

Goldberg returned to democratic South Africa in 2002. The ANC bestowed its highest order, the Isithwalandwe/Seaparankoe award, on him in recognition of his contribution to the struggle against apartheid. 

South Africa’s governing African National Congress (ANC) on Thursday paid tribute to Goldberg, saying he belonged to an illustrious generation of freedom fighters who were prepared to sacrifice all and lay down their lives in the struggle for liberation. 

“This is the generation that understood that satisfaction in life comes from serving others. Theirs was a selfless commitment to the liberation of our country. They spared no effort in securing our liberation," ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule said in a statement.

"Comrade Goldberg dedicated all his life to the liberation of the people of South Africa. He was part of those who mobilised for the Congress of the People that took place in Kliptown in 1955. He later became the youngest of the Rivonia Triallists," he added, referring to a group of activists including Nelson Mandela who were tried in 1963–64 on charges of trying to topple the then apartheid government.

Magashule noted that after his release from prison in 1985, Goldberg continued to serve the liberation movement with utmost dedication. 

“He also served the democratic government in various capacities. Up to his last days, he remained active in civil society; always showing deep concern to the plight of the poor and marginalised. He leaves behind a proud legacy of hard work, selflessness and sacrifice in service of our movement and our country,” said Magashule.

“As the current generation of ANC leaders, members and activists we will pick up his fallen spear. We will continue to honour his legacy. An accomplished revolutionary and freedom fighter par excellence."

South Africa’s main opposition, the Democratic Alliance (DA) said it was saddened by Goldberg’s death.

“Whether it was during apartheid or in democratic South Africa, Goldberg never shied away from speaking truth to power, even if it would have been easier for him to look away. The DA sends its heartfelt condolences to Goldberg's family and loved ones during these difficult times,” said DA national spokesperson Refiloe Nt'sekhe.

African News Agency (ANA)

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