Andrew Mokete Mlangeni studied through Unisa while on Robben Island. He completed his BA in 1979 and his BA Honours in Political Science (cum laude) in 1986. In 2014, Unisa awarded him an Honorary Doctorate in Literature and Philosophy.


Mlangeni was among the uMkhonto weSizwe activists charged with sabotage in the Rivonia Trial of 1963–1964. The dignified conduct of the accused made the trial a victory for the anti-apartheid movement, and Mlangeni’s own “statement from the dock” reads with profound integrity. While serving his life sentence on Robben Island, Mlangeni and other prisoners fought tirelessly for the right to be educated. He was eventually able to complete matric and his Unisa degrees on the Island. After his release and South Africa’s first democratic elections, Mlangeni became a long-serving Member of Parliament for Soweto, his township of birth. In accepting his honorary doctorate from Unisa, Mlangeni championed lifelong learning and paid tribute to younger graduates who had also “experienced challenges in acquiring a university degree”.