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Griffiths Mxenge

Griffiths Mxenge

Birth date:

February 27, 1935

Death date:

November 19, 1981

Age at Death:



Griffiths Mxenge was a civil rights lawyer in South Africa and an activist during Apartheid and was a member of the African National Congress. He grew up in South Africa and graduated from Newell High School in Port Elizabeth, South Africa in 1956. During his time as a law student at Fort Hare University he joined the African National Congress Youth League. In 1962, he enrolled at the University of Natal to get his LLB degree and married his wife Victoria Mxenge. During his time in college he was detained for 190 days in 1966 and in 1967 he was imprisoned for 2 years on Robben Island under the Suppression of Communism Act for supporting the African National Congress, during his time in prison his first son, Mbasa, was born. After his release from Robben Island he served a 2-year probationary period that banned him, among many other things, from finishing his law degree; but with the help of Prof. Tony Matthews, he was able to earn his law degree in 1970, the same year his second son Viwe was born. The following year he began to serve his articles under Rabie Bugwandeen of the Natal Indian Congress but was issued another ban in the same year. Then in 1974 he was admitted as an attorney to the Supreme Court of South Africa and in the next year he started his own law practice in Durban and his daughter, Namhla was born. During this time, he defended Joseph Mduli, a member of the ANC who was brutally murdered, resulting in 4 police men being charged with the murder. He was also an active member of the Release Mandela Committee and the Lawyers for Human Rights, Mxenge was also a founding member of the South African Democratic Lawyers Association.

On November 19, 1981, Mxenge was assassinated by an apartheid death squad in Umlazi township south of Durban. Before he was killed, Mxenge stopped his car to help a group of men whose car supposedly broke down on the side of the road, he was then abducted by the men and then the death squad eventually stabbed him 45 times, beat him with a hammer and slit his throat. His friend and former ANC leader, Mathews Phosa, witnessed the death squad describe Mxenge’s death. His wife was shot and hacked to death at their home in Durban 4 years later in front of their children.

Was justice served?

Justice has not been served. In November of 1996, the death squad commander in charge of his death testified in trial and received amnesty from his charges and the rest of the death squad members also received amnesty. As of February, 2020, justice has not been served.

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