The late Denis Goldberg at his home in Hout Bay. File photo: Tracey Adams/African News Agency (ANA)
The late Denis Goldberg at his home in Hout Bay. File photo: Tracey Adams/African News Agency (ANA)

Four days of national mourning declared for Struggle icon Denis Goldberg

By ANA Reporter Time of article published May 1, 2020

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Cape Town – President Cyril Ramaphosa on Friday declared three days of national mourning for the anti-apartheid activist and Struggle stalwart Denis Goldberg.

Goldberg passed away late on Wednesday night. Goldberg, who was tried for treason alongside Nelson Mandela and spent more than two decades in prison, died aged 87, having celebrated his birthday on April 11. He had battled cancer and heart issues.

“At this time we cannot say our goodbyes in person and in our numbers. May the silent prayers and gratitude of the people of South Africa carry his brave and patriotic soul to its final rest,” Ramaphosa said in a statement.

Ramaphosa expressed his deep condolences at the passing of Goldberg.

"In terms of this declaration, the national flag is to fly at half-mast at every station in the country from today, Friday, 1 May 2020, to Monday, 4 May 2020, as a mark of respect and in observance of days of national mourning for Mr Goldberg, who passed away at the age of 87," the Presidency said.

Goldberg had an unflinching commitment to ethical leadership and spoke out for it even in his later years, Ramaphosa said.

"His was a life well lived in the struggle for freedom in South Africa. We will miss him," his family and foundation said in a statement.

Ramaphosa applauded Goldberg's lifelong activism in the interest of poor and vulnerable communities, in a country where inequalities created by decades of apartheid rule which discriminated against non-whites still persist.

"He dedicated his life to achieving the better life we enjoy today and his revolutionary contribution reinforced the non-racial character of our struggle and of our democratic dispensation," Ramaphosa said.

Born in Cape Town in 1933 and an engineer by training, Goldberg was an executive member of the Congress of Democrats, an organisation allied to the ANC from the mid-1950s.

He was prosecuted from June 1963 to October 1964 along with Mandela, who died in December 2013, as well as Govan Mbeki, Walter Sisulu and others in the famous Rivonia trial on charges of campaigning to overthrow the apartheid government.

Goldberg, who was the only white man on trial, was found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment in Pretoria. He was in jail for 22 years in total before being released in 1985. He spent several years in exile, working for the ANC in London from 1985 to 1994.

Goldberg returned to a democratic South Africa in 2002 and was appointed special adviser to then water affairs and forestry minister Ronnie Kasrils.

The ANC, which has governed South Africa since the end of apartheid in 1994, bestowed its highest order, the Isithwalandwe/Seaparankoe award, on Goldberg in recognition of his contribution to the struggle against the racist system.

Goldberg was an outspoken critic of Ramaphosa's predecessor, Jacob Zuma, who was forced to step down as South Africa's president in 2018 before the end of his second five-year term amid allegations of corruption.

"His commitment to ethical leadership was unflinching and even during his advanced age, he formed part of the movement of veterans of the struggle calling for reassertion of moral center of society," Ramaphosa said.

African News Agency (ANA)

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