Mlangeni was a revolutionary – Ekandjo

The man who humbly described himself as a 'back-room boy' who was never at the forefront of the ANC died yesterday.

23 July 2020 | International



Former anti-apartheid activist and Robben Island prisoner Jerry Ekandjo described fallen South African politician Andrew Mlangeni as a true revolutionary.

Mlangeni was the last remaining Rivonia trialist, and died aged 95 yesterday.

Reflecting on the life of Mlangeni, Ekandjo described his passing as a great loss to South Africa.

“He was a revolutionary of our time. It is a great loss to the people of South Africa. I will remember him as one of the most prominent freedom fighters,” Ekandjo said.


Mlangeni was the last co-defendant of former South African president, the late Nelson Mandela.

Following the conclusion of the trial where he was found guilty of treason, Mlangeni served 26 years of his sentence at Robben Island.

Ekandjo spoke fondly of Mlangeni's character, calling him and his fellow Rivonia trialists courageous.

“It was not easy to launch a revolutionary struggle in South Africa. They were always courageous,” said Ekondjo, noting that the South African Defence Force was the strongest military power on the continent at the time.


Ekandjo said Mlangeni had achieved what he had set out to achieve.

“He was convinced South Africa would achieve democracy. What they were striving for was achieved. He has completed his race.”

Ekandjo said it would now be up to the youth of South Africa to carry on with the work Mlangeni and his compatriots had set out to complete.

“It is up to the South African youth to ensure that the Freedom Charter is implemented to its fullest, it is a living document. May his soul rest in peace,” Ekandjo said.

'Back-room boy'

President Hage Geingob also paid homage to the late Mlangeni. “My sincere condolences to my dear brother Cyril Ramaphosa, the African National Congress family and the people of South Africa. May the soul of comrade Mlangeni rest in peace,” Geingob wrote on Twitter.

Mlangeni resisted the notion that he might be a figure of public influence.

“I was never at the forefront of the ANC,” he said in a 2013 documentary of the years before his imprisonment. “I was always a back-room boy.” Mlangeni is survived by his two daughters, Maureen and Sylvia, and a son, Sello.

His wife, June, died of cancer in 2001, shortly after their 50th wedding anniversary, and his eldest son, Aubrey, in 1998, the New York Times wrote.

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