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Griffiths and Victoria Mxenge

Griffiths and Victoria Mxenge
Mxenge Museum (KZN)

Griffiths Mxenge

Griffiths Mlungisi Mxenge was the eldest son of Johnson Pinti and Hannah Nowise Mxenge. He was born in 1935. His parents were well respected peasant farmers of Rayi, a small rural settlement located barely 5 kilometers from King Williams Town. After his primary education from a local school, he obtained his secondary education at Forbes Grant Secondary School in Ginsburg and in 1956 matriculated at Newell High School in this very City. In 1959 he completed the BA degree at the University of Fort Hare majoring in Roman Dutch Law and English.

His LLB studies were interrupted when in 1965 he was detained for 190 days and later convicted under the Suppression of Communism Act1 for his political activities within the ANC. 'Boet Griffs', as I fondly called him, was brought to Robben Island on a two year imprisonment term. I was in my second of ten years of imprisonment. There we met. I had just started my studies in law through Unisa. Besides ideological debates and analyses of trends in resistance politics, the very bread and butter of political prisoners, I had much to learn from him as he had majored in Roman Dutch Law. After his release from Robben Island he was served with a two year banning order which was followed by intermittent detentions including 109 days in solitary confinement. In time he completed the LLB degree, served articles and met all requirements for admission as an attorney. That however was not enough to gain him admission because of his previous political conviction.

This is an extract of JUSTICE DIKGANG MOSENEKE’s speech from the Inaugural of the Griffiths and Victoria Mxenge Memorial Lecture held at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (Law Department) on the 30th October 2009.

Victoria Mxenge

Victoria Mxenge played an increasingly prominent role in the struggle for liberation. She started a bursary fund in memory of her husband. She became a member of the Release Nelson Mandela Committee, the National Organisation of Women and the Natal Treasurer of the UDF. In July 1985 she was invited to speak at the funeral of Matthew Goniwe, Fort Calata, Sparrow Mkhonto and Sicelo Mhlauli (also known as the Craddock Four) attended by approximately 50, 000 mourners to mark the death of activists who had been murdered. Amidst the endemic assassination of activists she was not deterred.

In 2006, Griffiths and Victoria Mxenge were awarded posthumously the national order known as the Order of Luthuli in Silver for their excellent contribution to the field of law and sacrifices made in the fight against apartheid oppression in South Africa. The citation aptly records that they paid the supreme price for defending the rights of the oppressed South Africans to exist in conditions of freedom, justice, peace and democracy. The citation continues to note that that as husband and wife, they forfeited family life in pursuit of the broader family of humanity, united under non-­-racialism, non-­-sexism and justice for all South Africans.”

This is an extract of JUSTICE DIKGANG MOSENEKE’s speech from the Inaugural of the Griffiths and Victoria Mxenge Memorial Lecture held at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (Law Department) on the 30th October 2009.

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