Veteran anti-apartheid activist Denis Goldberg dies

An associate of Mandela, Goldberg spent 22 years in prison on treason charges


Denis Goldberg, the South African anti-apartheid campaigner who worked closely with Nelson Mandela, has died aged 87.

Goldberg was jailed in 1964 on treason charges and spent 22 years in a Pretoria prison.

His niece, Joy Noero, told the press he “died peacefully” in his home in Hout Bay, near Cape Town, after suffering from lung cancer.

Born in 1933 to a Jewish family who had emigrated from the UK, he faced antisemitic attacks at school and later said: "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.

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

He 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.

In 1963, he was arrested along with other ANC officials and put on trial alongside Mandela. 

Speaking about Goldberg’s demeanour during the trial, Mandela later said: “There was a good deal of gallows humour among us. Denis Goldberg, the youngest of the accused, had an irrepressible sense of humour and often had us laughing when we should not have been.”

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