Andrew Mlangeni is ninety years old, his eyes carry ghosts, his hands wear wrinkles and scars, and he is one of the two surviving members from the Rivonia Trial group of men imprisoned in 1964. Last week he spoke up against corruption and the prevailing apartheid prejudices in a presentation at Rhodes University.
Mlangeni has been working since the age of 9, joined the Young Communist League in 1946, joined the ANC Youth League in 1951 and in 1961 he was among the first recruits to be sent by the banned ANC for guerrilla training in China.
In 1963, he was arrested in Rivonia. He was charged with treason and tried alongside Govan Mbeki, Ahmed Kathrada, Walter Sisulu, Denis Goldberg and Nelson Mandela, to name a few. He spent 26 years on Robben Island, during which time he completed his matric certificate and then studied through UNISA. In 1979 he was awarded a BA degree in Political Studies and Public Administration and an Honours degree in Political Studies in 1986 (cum laude).
He was an active member of parliament from 1994 until 2014. During this time he also helped lead the Ethics Committee and Integrity Committee of the ANC, and last year he was awarded an honorary Doctorate in Philosophy by UNISA.
This man has dedicated his life to this country, our society and the ideals to which we all should strive. On 6 October, he gave a presentation at Rhodes University titled, ‘The New Society we fought for and what must still be done to achieve it’. At a ripe 90 years old, it seems he’s still searching for the free society of our dreams.
This is a summary of the presentation; some scribbled quotes, sketches and his signature.