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Our Founding Director – Denis Goldberg

Denis Goldberg received a standing ovation at UNISON Conference 2010. Photo by Graham Smith.

Denis Goldberg, our founding Director and now honorary president, was one of those sentenced to 4 life sentences along side Nelson Mandela for their part in the struggle against apartheid. Born in 1933 in Cape Town, he was very aware of the injustices of the apartheid system and by the late 1950’s became actively involved in the struggle to overthrow it. In 1964 he was sentenced with Nelson Mandela and others but even within the prison system apartheid existed and Denis was separated from his comrades (they were sent to Robben Island) and was sent to Pretoria Cental Prison.

After Denis’s release from prison, in 1986, he joined his wife Esme in London where she and their young children had had to flee in 1964. He continued to work to overcome the apartheid regime, travelling all over the world, including the United Nations, speaking about the injustice of apartheid.

Denis Goldberg was a guest at the inaurguration of President Nelson Mandela in May 1994.

Community H.E.A.R.T.

Denis launched Community H.E.A.R.T. at the South African High Commission on 27th of April 1995, on the 1st anniversary of the first democratic elections to support the continued struggle of the people of South Africa to overcome the awful legacy of apartheid. Denis returned to South Africa in 2002 but has continued to work and support the work of Community H.E.A.R.T.  On his return to South Africa, he worked as an advisor to the Minister of Water and Forestry, retiring at the age of 73 when his second wife Edelgard Nkobi Goldberg became very ill.

The Mission – A Life for Freedom in South Africa

Denis Goldberg’s autobiography, The Mission – A Life for Freedom in South Africa, was launched at the South African High Commission in Trafalgar Square on the 15th of March 2010. The event was hosted by the South African High Commissioner H.E. Dr Zola Skweyiya who spoke warmly of Denis and how Denis and his comrades had inspired Dr. Skweyiya and his generation in their struggle against apartheid.                                                                   Denis told the audience of 300 that he had planned to call  his book, “Life, life is wonderful!”, his cry when the Judge at the trial sentenced them to 4 life sentences instead of hanging. However he wanted to honour his other comrades like Looksmart Ngudle and Chris Hani who had been murdered for their part in the struggle and did not live to see freedom in South Africa. (Please contact Community H.E.A.R.T. if you wish to buy a copy of the book.)

Denis has over the years been recognised  for his commitment to the people of South Africa, his work to bring an end to apartheid and to overcome the legacy.

  • Awarded the Luthuli Peace Prize by a group of US NGO’s
  • 1997 – honorary degree and visiting professorship at Glasgow Caledonian University
  • 2000 – honorary doctorate from MEDUNSA (Medical University of South Africa) now part of the University of Limpopo
  • 2009 – Order of Luthuli in Silver for “his commitment to the struggle against apartheid and his service to the people of South Africa.”
  • 2010 – honorary membership of the trade union UNISON (htere are 2 other people that have been awarded honorary membership, Nelson Mandela and Aung San Suu Kyi.