United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa says it is a pity that Rivonia Trialist Denis Goldberg will not be given the high profile services he should receive, as the coronavirus pandemic ravages the world. Holomisa has joined large numbers of South Africans who are mourning the struggle veteran who turned his back on a life of privilege to fight the Apartheid regime in the late 50s.
Goldberg passed away at Hout Bay in Cape Town after a battle with lung cancer. Holomisa has paid tribute to the 87-year-old struggle stalwart.
“Denis played his role during the struggle period and we respect him for that. We salute him, on the other hand it is pity that he will buried during this lockdown period, how I wish that he could have been given a hero’s farewell.”
Former leader of the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) Mangosuthu Buthelezi says his thoughts are with the remaining Rivonia Trialist, Andrew Mlangeni.
Buthelezi says he will always cherish the sacrifice Goldberg made.
“We must always cherish the fact that those stalwarts with Madiba sacrificed so much for our liberation. At least we are still around and that is why it’s so sad when with his passing away I can only think of my brother Andrew Mlangeni who remains from those Rivonia Trialist stalwarts. And just on the day, we celebrated the release of Mr Mandela this year in Cape Town in February, I never thought that was the last time I would be with him.”
The African National Congress (ANC) says it is deeply saddened by the passing.
In a statement, the party says Goldberg belonged to the illustrious generation of freedom fighters who were prepared to sacrifice all in the struggle for liberation.
@MYANC conveys condolences and pays homage to one of its outstanding freedom fighters Isithalandwe-Seaparankwe #DennisGoldberg who passed on before midnight, 29th April 2020. We honor him for his humility, selflessness and courage. #HambakahleMkhonto pic.twitter.com/r8aM87973d
— African National Congress (@MYANC) April 30, 2020
In the video below, ANC Treasurer General Paul Mashatile sent condolences to Goldberg’s family:
Goldberg had no regrets in taking part in the armed struggle
The Ahmed Kathrada Foundation described Goldberg as an outstanding African revolutionary who had a zest for life. Goldberg was always optimistic about the future of the country. He spent 22 years in jail for his role in the armed struggle.
He and other seven founding members of the ANC’s armed wing Umkhonto weSizwe were sentenced to life imprisonment during the famous Rivonia Trial in 1963.
Speaking in his hospital bed at Constantiaberg Mediclinic, Goldberg said he had no regrets for taking part in the liberation struggle.
“We were all known to the security police. Many of us had been partially underground. I left home to go to Lilliesleaf underground. It was the most exciting time; revolution is around the corner and then came the raid and arrests. Suddenly, it was like ice water poured over you, and that’s the end. I did escape and was captured from Vereeniging prison. “
Goldberg recalled how they all decided that they were not going to apologise.
“ Our defence was that apartheid was brutal, unjust system and has to be overthrown. It’s not a legal defence, it’s a political defence. So there I was instructed to make weapons for an underground army and I was prepared to do it. I was an engineer. “
Goldberg said, former President Nelson Mandela’s speech in the dock and later testimony by another Rivonia Trialist, Walter Sisulu demonstrated their resolve.
“Throughout four days of cross-examination and Nelson’s speech, I think it affected the world. I still can’t explain why we were not hanged, it showed this was not a bunch of hot heads; these were serious people who studied, thought, explained and had vision. Why did I a white privileged civil engineer gave up the whole life of wealth ahead of me, because I believe in justice. “
The former ANC stalwart attributed his involvement to the struggle to his parents. “ I grew up in a political home, my parents were communists, i grew up during the world war 2 people sacrificed for freedom, ordinary people fighting behind the lines, but greatness was to mobilise hundreds of thousands people that brought our freedom.”
On how he would like to be remembered, Goldberg said the struggle was never about individuals.
“I would like to take forward the sense that we tried to govern, my whole generation of political activists, the greatest joy of life is service to others, didn’t know the term Ubuntu, but that’s what we were trying to live for. Before we knew the word. We live in a society, we cannot live as individuals so fellow comrades, freedom is the cry not riches, the freedom is the riches.”
Goldberg was the recipient of the Order of Luthuli in Silver from the Presidency in 2009 for his lifelong contribution to the liberation struggle. He was also honoured with many other awards. Authors- Nomalizo Mandela and Chris Mabuya