Rivonia three to receive freedom of London and Sedibeng
Three of the remaining Rivonia Trialists‚ Ahmed Kathrada‚ Andrew Mlangeni and Denis Goldberg‚ are to receive the freedom of the City of London as well as of the Vaal Triangle municipality of Sedibeng.
They will receive the freedom of the City of London on January 27 while the freedom of Sedibeng will be conferred on them on Friday.
They will be joined in receiving the freedom of the City of London by their legal representatives during the Rivonia treason trial‚ George Bizos and Joel Joffe.
The awardees are also expected to meet Prime Minister David Cameron during their UK visit.
Prior to the Sedibeng ceremony on Friday‚ the former trialists will engage with youth from the Vaal region‚ as well as lay a wreath at the Sharpeville Memorial Centre.
“In keeping with their lifelong commitment to non-racialism‚ the three will also use the opportunity to take a stand against the recent spate of racial incidents that has made headlines‚” a statement from the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation said.
Commenting on the accolade‚ Kathrada said that he was honoured and humbled.
“One recalls the Sedibeng region’s contribution to the anti-apartheid struggle in the Evaton Bus Boycotts in the 1950s‚ as well as the horrors of the violence that erupted in the Vaal Triangle‚ particularly Boipatong‚ closer to the advent of democracy.
“Importantly‚ the region is home to the site of the Sharpeville Massacre. We must remember though‚ that Sharpeville is also where the new Constitution of South Africa was signed into law by President Mandela. It is therefore symbolic of how far we have come as a country – from racial oppression by the state‚ to the non-racial future that the Constitution promised‚ and still promises.”
His views were echoed by Neeshan Balton‚ Director of the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation. “The 1960 Sharpeville Massacre was symbolic of the height of racial oppression. The Pass Laws that were at the heart of the protest‚ was a tool to entrench racial segregation. The history of this massacre holds special significance today‚ in light of elements of racism that have persisted‚ as demonstrated publically by certain individuals over the last two weeks.
Balton added that it is highly significant that the Sedibeng district had chosen the three remaining trialists for this accolade. “The Rivonia generation symbolises the best values of the liberation movement‚ including selflessness‚ courage and providing leadership by example.
“Their struggle‚ arrests‚ incarceration and subsequent freedom epitomises the transition that the country underwent. In a way‚ this award is a tribute to their vision of a non-racial future – a value championed from as far back as 1955‚ with South Africans from across racial lines working together to challenge the apartheid state‚” he said.
“At the event in Sharpeville‚ Kathrada‚ Mlangeni and Goldberg will in some way be recommitting to that very ideal that echoed so strongly during their trial.
“Ahead of tomorrow’s (Friday’s) ceremony‚ it is worth revisiting Mandela’s words from the dock: ‘I have fought against white domination‚ and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons will live together in harmony with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for‚ and to see realised. But my Lord‚ if needs be‚ it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die’.”