01 The man with many names

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During Andrew Mokete Mlageni’s political career, he sometimes had to change his name to Percy or Mokete Mokoena. On Robben Island, he got another identity as Prisoner 467/64. Nevertheless, in democratic South Africa he is honoured as Om (oom) Andrew Mlangeni, the people’s person: the prestigious backroom boy, as he calls himself. Moreover, this is how he will be remembered, since he is really a people’s person, a beloved Dube resident who liked to play golf for recreation.

Percy Mokoena was the name Andrew got when he became one of the first six people who went to Communist China in 1962 for a year’s training in the secrets of guerrilla warfare. When Percy Mokoena returned home, he was Andrew Mlangeni again, but soon he had to take over from Joe Modise in recruiting volunteers and transporting them to go for military training in Africa. For this reason, he had to pose as Rev. Mokete Mokoena, wearing a porapora. In 1964 he was sentenced as one of the group of the Rivonia Trial and got the number 467/64 and the cell next to Nelson Mandela on Robben Island.

In Mlangeni’s biography, Kgalema Mothlanthe describes Andrew’s life as ‘lesson-laden, politically-charged’, while Sello Mosheo Rasethaba says he is a ‘MFD (multifunctional device)’. Yet, Andrew Mlangeni preferred the title of his biography to be: ‘The Backroom Boy’.

Read more about the Rivonia Trial in UJ Library. Read about the “bogus cleric” in The Rand Daily Mail of 5 February 1964. You will find it in Newsbank, a database subscribed to by UJ Library.​

Lest We Forget Programme
Prisoner 46764
Struggle Veterans On Robben Island
Struggle Veterans on Robben Island
Mlangeni Foundation Facebook page