Political activist Arthur Goldreich dies at 82

Arthur Goldreich, an anti-apartheid activist who provided secret refuge to African National Congress (ANC) members at his farm in Rivonia, has passed away at the age of 82, the Nelson Mandela Foundation said on May 25.

Born in Pietersburg in 1929, Goldreich moved to Israel to fight in the Arab-Israeli war as part of an elite underground Jewish army.

He returned to South Africa in 1954 and won South Africa’s Best Young Painter Award the following year for his figures in black and white.

Goldreich and lawyer Harold Wolpe bought Liliesleaf farm in Rivonia, Johannesburg, in 1961 as headquarters for the underground Communist Party. The house was used as a place of refuge for former president Nelson Mandela and other freedom fighters.

Mandela moved to the farm in October 1961, using the alias of a gardener and cook named “David Motsamayi” to hide away from police.

“Goldreich was one of those arrested at the farm on July 11 1963 in the now infamous Rivonia raid,” foundation CEO Achmat Dangor said.

On that day, security police raided the farm and captured 19 members of the underground, charging them with sabotage.

Dangor said Goldreich, along with Harold Wolpe, Mosie Moola and Abdulhay Jassat escaped from custody at Marshall Square Police Station in Johannesburg on August 11 1963.

Goldreich moved to Israel in 1964 after his escape.

During his speech from the dock on April 20 1964 in the Rivonia trial, Mandela said: “Whilst staying at Liliesleaf farm, I frequently visited Arthur Goldreich in the main house and he also paid me visits in my room.

“We had numerous political discussions covering a variety of subjects. We discussed ideological and practical questions, the Congress Alliance ... Because of what I had got to know of Goldreich, I recommended on my return to South Africa that he should be recruited to Umkhonto [weSizwe, the armed wing of the ANC].”

Goldreich briefly returned to South Africa after 1994 to attend a reunion at Liliesleaf. Today the farm has been restored into a museum detailing the events leading up to the Rivonia Raid.

Dangor extended his condolences to Goldreich’s family and friends on behalf of Mandela and the foundation’s chairperson, board and staff.

He is survived by his sons Nicholas, Paul, Amos and Eden.—Sapa



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