African National Congress (ANC) struggle veteran and the only remaining Rivonia Trialist Andrew Mlangeni says he can only thank God for keeping him so long. Mlangeni is celebrating his 95th birthday on Saturday.
He spent over two decades in Robben Island with Nelson Mandela and Walter Sisulu among others fighting for the country’s freedom.
SABC Political Correspondent Ntebo Mokobo spent a day with Mlangeni on the eve of his birthday at his home in Soweto. Mlangeni is the only Rivonia trialist still alive.
Last remaining ANC Rivonia trialist, Andrew Mlangeni, turns 95 on Saturday:
One of his lifelong friend and comrade Dennis Goldberg passed away earlier in 2020. But at 95, Mlangeni still has a sharp mind and remembers almost everything about his life and times in the ANC.
The ANC struggle veteran says 95 years on earth has been a good long road.
”It’s been a long road to freedom. It’s been a long road also for me to reach this age. I have always said to people I wouldn’t mind dying before I reach 95 and people are always saying to me, ‘Mlangeni, it’s not your choice. It’s God who decides whether you are going to reach 95 or 100.’ But there it is, 95. I am thankful to my creator for having looked after me until I reach that age that I didn’t want to reach. I said, ‘God, thank you very much for looking after me until this day.”’
But he says his biggest disappointment was the corruption that had rocked the ANC which derailed it from its core mandate of ensuring a better life for all.
”When we elected people to become our leaders in government we elected, at the time, people in whom we had confidence that they will carry out the policies of the ANC, that of bringing about prosperity and peace in our country. But our leadership associated with the people who are corrupt. You know the Guptas. It is not a secret anymore. We are terribly disappointed by those people whom we have confidence (in) that they fell victims to the Guptas.”
Mlangeni has called on South Africans to respect guidelines aimed at fighting COVID-19:
And he implored young people to sacrifice if they want to build a better country.
”Our future is in the youth not in ourselves. I have played my part, but the youth of our country … this is their land; this is their country. We made sacrifices when we joined MK ourselves. We knew we will be arrested and some will die. Before we even reach(ed) the stage (we knew) you have got to sacrifice ”
As he celebrates 95 years, the ANC stalwart says it’s unfortunate that he can’t invite people to his big day because of the lockdown restrictions, but says he hopes to inspire younger generations to work hard for their country.
Additional reporting by SABC Political Editor Mzwandile Mbeje