Rivonia triallist Denis Goldberg at his home in Hout Bay on January 23 2019 with Deputy President David Mabuza. Goldberg passed away on Wednesday night. Picture: ANC
Rivonia triallist Denis Goldberg at his home in Hout Bay on January 23 2019 with Deputy President David Mabuza. Goldberg passed away on Wednesday night. Picture: ANC

Denis Goldberg, an anti-apartheid veteran who spent 22 years in prison, has died.

His family and the Denis Goldberg Legacy Foundation Trust said on Thursday that he had died just before midnight on Wednesday.

“His was a life well-lived in the struggle for freedom in SA. We will miss him,” the statement read.

Goldberg, a widower twice over, has a son and a daughter. He was born in Cape Town in 1933.

He was awarded the Order of Luthuli in Silver by the presidency, which commended him for his dedication to working for the betterment of the people of SA throughout his life.

A year ago, he was also honoured with the ANC’s highest award, Isitwalandwe. On acceptance, Goldberg said: “I think it’s a recognition of the role of a whole generation of people who brought us out of the darkness of apartheid.”

In the early 1950s, Goldberg joined the Congress of Democrats and the Communist Party underground.

In 1953, while a student at the University of Cape Town (UCT) studying civil engineering, Goldberg joined the Modern Youth Society. He continued to be an activist and joined Umkhonto we Sizwe’s (MK) technical office in the early 1960s. He became the weapon maker for Operation Mayibuye.

In 1963, Goldberg was arrested at the Rivonia headquarters of MK. He was sentenced in 1964 at the end of the Rivonia Trial to four terms of life imprisonment. He was the only white member of MK to be arrested and sentenced in the Rivonia Trial.

In 1985, after 22 years of imprisonment, he was set free and reunited with his family in London, where he continued to work for the ANC, said the presidency.

Goldberg was a spokesperson for the ANC and also represented it in the Anti-Apartheid Committee of the UN.

In 1995, after the first democratic election in SA, Goldberg founded the development organisation Community Heart (health education and reconstruction training) to help improve the living standards of black South Africans.

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