Liberation stalwart and the last surviving Rivonia trialist, Dr Andrew Mlangeni, celebrated his 95th birthday on Saturday.
Due to national lockdown regulations, the occasion was marked by a "dignified drive-through" at his home in Dube, Soweto.
Each car was given 30 seconds to wish Mlangeni a happy birthday and drop off a present outside the house. The drive-through celebration was led by a fire engine and the mayor's motorcade, followed by June and Andrew Mlangeni Foundation trustees.
His own phone went to voicemail when News24 reached out to him.
His son, Sello, said by Saturday afternoon there was still a steady procession of vehicles passing their house, hooting and wishing his father a happy birthday.
"He is enjoying his day," he chuckled. "They are still busy now with the drive-by, wishing him a happy birthday."
Asked if he could pass the phone to his dad, Sello said his father would not be able to hear due to the celebratory procession passing the house.
To commemorate the milestone, the foundation has committed itself to giving back to those who have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
Through a partnership with SUNfarming, 400kg of Vitality porridge will be donated to the Soweto Home for the Aged, a few schools in Dube and the Caledonian Stadium temporary shelter, which houses about 700 homeless people during the lockdown.
Mlangeni was born on 6 June 1925 - the ninth child in a family 14. In 1951, he joined the ANC Youth League (ANCYL) and later, in 1954, he joined the ANC. In 1961, he was among the first to be sent for military training outside the country.
ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe said the “liberation
struggle stalwart remains our conscience who is vocal against corruption and
the social ills that grip our society”.
“On the occasion of his birthday, the ANC salutes him for his unwavering and steadfast commitment to the liberation of our country. We are honoured to have in our midst one of the few remaining fathers of our liberation,” he said.
“The last surviving Rivonia trialist is our well of wisdom, morality and selflessness who belongs to that generation of freedom fighters who placed the freedom of the people above their personal interests.
“Ntate Mlangeni’s lifelong commitment to social justice, democracy, equality, human rights and development of our nation is an inspiring legacy that will inspire and motivate future generations in South Africa and beyond.”
The Greater Johannesburg uMkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) has congratulated Mlangeni, saying it "is honoured to have this pioneer of the armed struggle among us as we face the most trying times of our lives".
Mlangeni has been described by the association as "a highly disciplined soldier with high moral attributes".
"Comrade Mlangeni has made a proud contribution in building the solid foundation we have today as we construct the non-racial, non-sexist, united and democratic South Africa.
"His lifelong and uncompromising commitment to social justice, democracy [and] equality is a great inspiration to our people. Your legacy will continue to inspire generations to come in South Africa and the world," the organisation said in a statement.