South Africa thrown into mourning as liberation struggle hero and last remaining Rivonia Trialist Andrew Mekete Mlangeni dies

“President Cyril Ramaphosa has learnt with deep sadness of the passing away overnight of the last remaining Rivonia Trialist and Isithwalandwe Seaparankwe Andrew Mekete Mlangeni,” the presidency in South Africa said in a statement received by TODAY NEWS AFRICA in Washington D.C. on Wednesday morning.

The Rivonia Trial, which led to the imprisonment of Nelson Mandela and his comrades who were convicted of sabotage and sentenced to life at the Palace of Justice, Pretoria, took place in South Africa between October 9, 1963, and June 12, 1964,

Bab’ Mlangeni, who turned 95 on June 6, 2020, was admitted to 1 Military Hospital in Thaba Tshwane, Pretoria, on Tuesday, 14 July, 2020, following an abdominal complaint.

President Ramaphosa offered his sincere condolences to the Mlangeni family as well as the friends, comrades and associates of the Struggle hero countrywide and internationally.

The presidency in Pretoria said President Ramaphosa participated in Bab’ Mlangeni’s birthday’s celebration last month in the company of, among other notable guests, President Thabo Mbeki, President Kgalema Motlanthe and Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi.

Bab’ Mlangeni was awarded Isithwalandwe Seaparankwe – the highest honour by the African National Congress for those who have made an outstanding contribution to the liberation struggle in 1992 – and received the Presidential Order for Meritorious Service: Class 1: Gold from President Nelson Mandela in 1999.

“The passing of Andrew Mekete Mlangeni signifies the end of a generational history and places our future squarely in our hands,” said President Ramaphosa.

He added: “Until recently, we were able to sit at Bab’ Mlangeni’s feet and draw on his wealth of wisdom and his unfailing commitment – even at his very advanced age – to a better life for all South Africans.

“Bab’ Mlangeni’s dramatic life was a unique example of heroism and humility inhabiting the same person and throughout his long life he remained a beacon of ethical leadership and care for humanity in our own country and around the globe.

“With his passing as the last remaining Rivonia Trialist, Bab’ Mlangeni has indeed passed the baton to his compatriots to build the South Africa he fought to liberate and to reconstruct during our democratic dispensation.

“He was a champion and exemplar of the values we need to build a South Africa that provides dignity and opportunity for all and which takes its rightful place in the global community of nations.

“My thoughts are with the Mlangeni Family today and with all who have had the blessing of meeting and being touched by Bab’ Mlangeni’s passion for achieving a better society as well as his passion for a life that is well-rounded, adventurous, healthy and embracing of people from all walks of life.”

Chief White House Correspondent for

Simon Ateba is Chief White House Correspondent for Today News Africa. Simon covers President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, the U.S. government, the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other financial and international institutions in Washington D.C. and New York City.

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