Andrew Mlangeni was awarded an honorary doctorate by the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) in April 2019. Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)
Andrew Mlangeni was awarded an honorary doctorate by the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) in April 2019. Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)

Struggle stalwart, friend and golfer: Celebrating Andrew Mlangeni’s life with pictures

Time of article published Jul 22, 2020

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Reuters and IOL

As tributes pour in for Andrew Mokete Mlangeni, we look at the Struggle icon’s life and celebrate some of the highlights in pictures.

Mlangeni, who was jailed alongside Nelson Mandela in 1964 after a treason trial, died at the age of 95 overnight.

He had been admitted to hospital following an abdominal complaint.

President Cyril Ramaphosa, who with Mlangeni fought for racial equality and an end to white minority rule, described him as a "beacon of ethical leadership and care for humanity" whose death marked the end of a generation of history and left the future in the hands of those who remained.

A picture of Andrew Mlangeni on display at Liliesleaf Farm. Picture by: John Hogg/African News Agency (ANA)

"With his passing... Mlangeni has indeed passed the baton to his compatriots to build the South Africa he fought to liberate and to reconstruct," he said.

Mlangeni championed the values needed to do this, including dignity and opportunity for all, and his "dramatic life was a unique example of heroism and humility inhabiting the same person," Ramaphosa said.

Ahmed Kathrada, Andrew Mlangeni and Denis Goldberg sit in the same courtroom in 2016 where their treason trial took place at the Palace of Justice. Picture: Masi Losi/African News Agency (ANA)

Mlangeni was born in 1925. In 1951, he joined the youth wing of the African National Congress (ANC), which is now in power, and was later sent abroad for military training.

On his return in 1963, he was arrested and stood trial alongside seven others including Mandela in what became known as the Rivonia trial, named after the suburb of Johannesburg where some of them were arrested.

ANC stalwart Andrew Mlangeni, is rewarded for Lifetime achievement award for his contribution to golf, during the Sport Awards at the Sandton Convention Centre in 2014.Picture: Itumeleng English/African News Agency (ANA)

Mlangeni was sentenced to life imprisonment and sent with Mandela to Robben Island prison, the main jail used at the time for Black male anti-apartheid prisoners.

Mlangeni, who spent 26 years in jail and was the last of the eight defendants in the trial to die, was released from prison in October 1989.

Andrew Mlangeni (L), Liliesleaf CEO Nicholas Wolpe (C) and Denis Goldberg (R) at a ceremony in 2014. Picture: Itumeleng English/African News Agency (ANA)

Family life

Andrew Mlangeni married June Mlangeni (née Ledwaba) in 1950. The couple had four children.

June raised sons Aubrey, Sello, Maureen and Sylvia in their family home in Dube while Andrew was either away on Struggle business or later imprisoned.

President Cyril Ramaphosa and Andrew Mlangeni at the President’s Golf Challenge in 2018. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)

The couple celebrated 50 years of marriage months before June’s death in 2001.

Speaking to Independent Media on his father’s 95th birthday in 2019, Sello Mlangeni recalled meeting his father in a hotel in Stockholm in 1989 after not seeing each other for nearly three decades. He said the older Mlangeni at first did not recognise him.

Despite the years of separation, the two developed a relationship based on mutual respect and love.

Andrew Mlangeni celebrating his 90th birthday in 2015 during during his annual Golf Day. Picture: Matthews Baloyi/African News Agency (ANA)

From freedom fighter to parliamentarian

He went on to become a Member of Parliament for a single term from 1994 to 1999 and then served in the National Assembly for another term before retiring in 2014.

Andrew Mokete Mlangeni during an interview at his home in Dube, Soweto, in 2016. Picture: Bhekikhaya Mabaso/African News Agency (ANA)

Film inspiration

Two films, Prisoner 467/64: The Untold Legacy of Andrew Mlangeni by director Lebogang Rasethaba and Sir Nicholas Van Stadlen’s documentary Life is Wonderful, give a rare glimpse into Mlangeni’s intensely private persona.

Mlangeni appeared in Life is Wonderful along with fellow Rivonia trialists Ahmed Kathrada and Denis Goldberg - whose words to his mother on hearing their sentence inspired the documentary’s name. The eight Rivonia trialists had expected to be sentenced to death and were shocked when they were prison sentences instead.

Andrew Mlangeni receives his certificate from then-vice chancellor of Unisa, Professor Mondli Makhanya, after he was bestowed with an honorary Doctor of Literature and Philosophy (honoris causa) degree in 2015. Picture: Masi Losi/African News Agency (ANA)

Two doctorates in one month

In April 2018, Rhodes University conferred an Honorary Doctorate in Law on Mlangeni, and later that month he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Education by the Durban University of Technology.

A year later, Mlangeni was awarded an honorary doctorate by the Cape Peninsula University of Technology.

ANC stalwart Andrew Mlangeni, ANC former deputy president Kagalema Motlanthe and Mathole Motshekga share a light moment during the ANC Gauteng provincial conference in 2014. Picture: Masi Losi/African News Agency (ANA)

A passion for golf

Mlangeni was an avid golfer and even has an annual golf event named after him.

The June and Andrew Mlangeni Foundation organises the Andrew Mlangeni Charity Golf Day annually to raise funds for the projects the foundation run, primarily in Dube.

Andrew Mlangeni and Fikile Mbalula, then-Minister of Sports and Recreation, during the annual Andrew Mlangeni Golf Day in 2015. Picture: Matthews Baloyi/African News Agency (ANA)

A principled stance

Over the past few years, Mlangeni was increasingly vocal about internal ANC politics.

In 2016, while chair of the party’s integrity committee he publicly called for then-president Jacob Zuma to leave office. He chastised senior ANC leaders for not forcing Zuma to resign after the damning Constitional Court judgment on Nkandla.

Until his death, Mlangeni remained determined to uphold the values of the liberation movement he had devoted his life to.

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