'My time is up', 'the future is theirs' - Rivonia trialist Andrew Mlangeni, 93, steals the show at voting station

2019-05-08 16:25
Andrew Mlangeni
Andrew Mlangeni casts his vote in Cape Town. (Jenna Etheridge, News24)

ANC veteran and Rivonia trialist Andrew Mlangeni urged young people on Wednesday to be active citizens by voting and contributing to the country as he and other struggle stalwarts had brought them this far.

"It's important that young people vote because the future is theirs," he said after using his cane to navigate stairs to vote at Voortrekker High School in Kenilworth, Cape Town.

"My time is up. I can't run the country any more. I am too old."

Still sprightly at 93 years old, Mlangeni surprised officials with his smart ID card, took selfies with fans and joked that he was 39, turning 40 next month.

As he put his ballot in the box, he shouted "Amandla!" to cheers from those around him.

Mlangeni said he was proud that the ANC had delivered human rights for all, including the right to vote.

But he warned that South Africa was not a socialist country and it was not right that citizens sat back and demanded that the government give them everything.

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They should pay their dues so the state can provide other services that are required.

"My people, I always tell them: 'Don't expect that everything will be done for you free of charge. You have got to make a contribution,'" he urged.

"They want money, they want houses, water free, electricity free. Where is the government going to get it from?"

Jeanne Marie Klopper and her daughter Courtney, 7, were star-struck when they saw Mlangeni at the voting station. 

Courtney wanted to know if Mlangeni had known late statesman Nelson Mandela.

"We were together in prison," a clearly touched Mlangeni told the little girl. "Only myself and Denis Goldberg are still alive but we will pass away very soon."

Around 20km away, Goldberg was pushed in his wheelchair in Hout Bay to make his mark.

The only other surviving Rivonia trialist commented that the country had come a long way to have another peaceful election.

Dennis Goldberg, Faiez Jacobs

Rivonia trialist Denis Goldberg, assisted by Western Cape ANC secretary Faiez Jacobs, casts his vote in Hout Bay. (Supplied, Western Cape ANC)

Klopper told News24 that she was teary-eyed after their encounter with Mlangeni, recalling the day she too stood in the voting queue with her mother in 1994.

Her daughter proudly showed off her thumb where her mom had made a khoki mark so she could also say she had 'voted'.

With the sparks of a social justice warrior in her heart, the little girl shared her dream of helping poor people: "I want to get them a big house to live in together and have money for toilets - for free."

As Mlangeni shuffled out of the station, he received a warm hug from Dr Shabier Bhawoodien.

Bhawoodien told News24 afterwards that he had been the veteran's family doctor since 1992.

"We've been part of the same struggle for a very long time. It's always been a great honour and pleasure to see him voting," he said.

He made it clear that it was the doctor's orders that Mlangeni should still be around for many elections to come.

Find everything you need to know about the 2019 National and Provincial Government Elections at our News24 Elections site, including the latest news and detailed, interactive maps for how South Africa has voted over the past 3 elections. Make sure your News24 app is updated to access all our elections coverage in one place.

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