South African anti-apartheid veteran Denis Goldberg dies

Denis GoldbergImage source, Getty Images

Veteran South African anti-apartheid activist Denis Goldberg, who was tried alongside Nelson Mandela, has died at the age of 87.

As a member of the ANC's military wing, he was convicted of armed resistance to white-minority rule and sentenced to four life terms in 1964.

He was imprisoned for 22 years.

Confirming the news of his death on local media, Mr Goldberg's niece, Joy Noero, said he had been suffering from lung cancer.

He "died peacefully" at his home in Hout Bay, near Cape Town, just before midnight on Wednesday, she added, saying that he "never stopped believing in his ideals".

Apartheid was a legalised form of racism in which white people were privileged above all others. It governed every aspect of life in South Africa, and only white people were able to vote until the first democratic elections in 1994 when Mandela was elected president.

Mr Goldberg was a lifelong supporter of the African National Congress and became a member of the armed wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe, when it was formed in 1961.

Different prison for white people

Two years later, he was among the ANC officials arrested at a hideout in Johannesburg.

On trial with Mandela, they were convicted of sabotage, and sentenced to life imprisonment.

The black prisoners were sent to Robben Island. But as the only white person to be found guilty in the case, Mr Goldberg was separated from the others, and spent 22 years in prison in Pretoria.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
In 2013, Denis Goldberg revisited the farm in Rivonia which was an ANC hideout and where he was arrested

On his release in 1985, he went into exile in the UK, but returned home to South Africa after the abolition of apartheid.

In later years he was a critic of the alleged corruption which came to define much of Jacob Zuma's presidency of South Africa, reports the BBC's Nick Ericsson.

South Africa 'like Nazi Germany'

Mr Goldberg's parents, who were both communists, had migrated from England before he was born, he said in a film made by the University of Cape Town last year.

He recalled that he was attacked at school because of his parents' politics and the fact that he was Jewish.

"I understood that what was happening in South Africa with its racism was like the racism in Nazi Germany that we were supposed to be fighting against," he said.

"You have to be involved one way or another. That's what I grew up with."

Reflecting on his activism, he said that he "came from a generation who were prepared to put our lives on the line for freedom. Freedom is more important than your own life."

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