Home News Anti-apartheid activist and painter Goldreich dies aged 82

Anti-apartheid activist and painter Goldreich dies aged 82

Published on 25/05/2011

Arthur Goldreich, an artist and anti-apartheid activist who harboured Nelson Mandela when he was a fugitive from the South African regime, has died at 82, Mandela's foundation said Wednesday.

Goldreich had been living in Israel since escaping from prison in Johannesburg following his arrest in 1963 at Liliesleaf Farm, the property on the outskirts of Johannesburg where he helped Mandela hide when he was on the run from the white-minority regime.

Goldreich also served in Umkhonto weSizwe, the armed wing of the African National Congress (ANC), and was dubbed “the arch-conspirator” by police after he and three other detainees bribed a guard to escape from prison and flee to Swaziland.

During his speech from the dock in the Rivonia Trial, the infamous sabotage case against 10 ANC leaders, Mandela recalled his discussions with Goldreich and his decision to invite his white Jewish abettor to join the armed struggle against apartheid.

“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,” he said.

“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.”

Besides his role in the anti-apartheid struggle, Goldreich was an artist and designer who created sets for “King Kong”, an acclaimed South African jazz musical that featured an all-black cast.

According to the SAPA news agency, Goldreich was born in the northern town of Polokwane (then known as Pietersburg) in 1929.

He moved to Israel in the 1940s to fight in the Arab-Israeli war and received guerrilla training as part of the Palmach, an elite branch of the Jewish army.

After returning to South Africa in 1954, he won an award as South Africa’s best young painter for his figures in black and white.

Together with lawyer Harold Wolpe, he bought Liliesleaf Farm in 1961 as a headquarters for the underground Communist Party.

Mandela took refuge at the farm later that year, posing as a gardener and cook to hide from the police.

Goldreich was one of those arrested following a raid on the farm in 1963.

He remained in Israel after his escape, but returned to South Africa for a reunion at Liliesleaf after Mandela was freed from prison and became South Africa’s first democratically elected president in 1994.

Goldreich died Tuesday, the Mandela Foundation said. He is survived by four sons.