(February 12, 1920 - February 20, 2005)
Member of the ANC and the Rivonia Trialist
This biography is from South African History Online. Used by permission.
Raymond Mhlaba was born in Mazoka village at Fort Beaufort in the Eastern Cape. He attended school at Healdtown but was forced to drop out because of financial problems. After leaving school he worked for a dry cleaning factory in Port Elizabeth in 1942. His experiences at the factory developed his political views and commitment to the labour struggle. A year later he joined the Communist Party of South Africa and became Secretary for the Port Elizabeth branch until the party was banned in 1950. From 1944 Mhlaba maintained dual membership of the ANC and the CPSA.
He was arrested during the Defiance Campaign in 1952 at the New Brighton railway station in Port Elizabeth and banned under the Suppression of Communism Act. After the banning of liberation movements in 1960, Mhlaba went into exile in 1961 for military training. On his return in 1962 he commanded Umkhonto we Sizwe until his arrest in 1963 at Rivonia. After he was found guilty on charges of treason, he was sentenced to life imprisonment on Robben Island. He was transfered to Pollsmoor prison in 1986, where he stayed until his release in 1989 to join the ANC Special Executive Committee that negotiated with the National Party government at Groote Schuur on a democratic future for the South Africa.
In 1991 he was elected into the ANC National Executive Committee and in 1994 he became the Premier of the Eastern Cape. Mhlaba also received the ANC medal Isithwalandwe and served in 1997 as South African High Commissioner to Uganda.
Mhlaba is married and has three children.