Johannesburg Mayor, Parks Tau, bestowed the city’s highest civilian accolade, the Freedom of the City Award, to apartheid struggle stalwarts, Adv George Bizos and Andrew Mokete Mlangeni, on Wednesday.
At a specially convened meeting of the Johannesburg council at the Walter Sisulu Hall in Randburg, Tau said the two Rivonia trial activists deserved the award for their “noble and supremely principled stand at Madiba’s side”.
A prominent human rights lawyer, the 87-year-old Bizos campaigned against apartheid in South Africa and, most notably, he was part of the team that defended Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Govan Mbeki and Ahmed Kathrada, among others at the famous Rivonia trial.
Being among the first to go for military training outside South Africa in 1961, Mlangeni was arrested on his return for being responsible for recruiting and training an armed force. He was sentenced to life imprisonment on Robben Island at the Rivonia trial.
Although the 90-year-old Mlangeni was in hospital during the ceremony, he still conveyed a congratulatory message to his fellow anti-apartheid activist through an acceptance speech read by his son, Sello Mlangeni.
The Freedom of the City Award is given to those who have played a significant role in the struggle for South Africa’s freedom and democracy.
Previous recipients of this award include Walter Sisulu, Neslon Mandela, Beyers Naudé, Joe Slovo and the most recent being given to Ahmed Kathrada, who attended the event.