Denis Goldberg. File picture: Tracey Adams/African News Agency/ANA.
Denis Goldberg. File picture: Tracey Adams/African News Agency/ANA.
Andrew Mlangeni.  File picture: Simphiwe Mbokazi/African News Agency/ANA
Andrew Mlangeni. File picture: Simphiwe Mbokazi/African News Agency/ANA
They stood on trial together in Rivonia, during the struggle for what would become a catalyst in the battle against apartheid. Now, the last two surviving Rivonia trialists are waging another battle - against cancer.

Denis Goldberg and Andrew Mlangeni stood trial and were convicted of treason in 1964. They were sentenced to life in prison with Nelson Mandela.

On Saturday, Deputy Minister for Rural Development and Land Reform Mcebisi Skwatsha, accompanied by other government officials, visited them.

Goldberg said he wanted a return to the ideals that he and his fellow anti-apartheid activists strived for ahead of next year’s elections and following Jacob Zuma’s removal as president.

“We need to recognise what it is we fought for, and I’m very glad that we are now returning to those values.”

Goldberg, who is being treated for cancer, said he was exploring new treatments and felt that he was regaining his strength following a session of chemotherapy.

“It’s a treatment that has been used overseas and we’re trying to get permission to use them here. It’s called immunotherapy, and there’s a good chance of having a couple of years more. It’s a very painful treatment, but I’m absolutely feeling positive about it,” he said.

“Is he (Mlangeni) going to outlive me or am I going to outlive him? I want to be the last man standing,” said Goldberg.

The 85-year-old hopes to see the completion of his arts and culture project, House of Hope, for the disadvantaged children of Hout Bay. ”

Goldberg was awarded an honorary doctor’s degree from Heriot-Watt University in Scotland in August.

Mlangeni, 93, is receiving treatment at the Military Hospital in Wynberg and was in good spirits. He said it was not easy, but he was “okay” and wanted to “get out of hospital”.

In April, Mlangeni received an honorary doctorate in education from the Durban University of Technology.

Both Mlangeni and Goldberg were featured, along with fellow Rivonia trialist Ahmed Kathrada, in the documentary Life is Wonderful: Mandela’s Unsung Heroes that made its debut at the Encounters Film Festival earlier this year. 

Sunday Independent