Family and friends statement on the first anniversary of the death of Cedric Mayson (1927 – 2015)

On 23 May 2016, it is one year since a husband, comrade, friend, father, grand and great-grandfather died. A fellow activist, Marvyn Bennun, wrote at the time of his death, “People like him can’t die so long as South Africans have memories and are prepared to remember. He was a man with a clear conscience”. We will not forget that you gave your life for freedom and equality. You endured arrests, torture, imprisonment, banning and exile without complaint or self-pity. Every time they smacked you down, you stood up, ready for the next battle. Those who risk their very life for others in the pursuit of freedom and equality are few, but Cedric was one of them.

Cedric was not alone. With countless others in the underground, he organised mass resistance, secretly produced and distributed literature and spirited fugitives across borders. His considerable writings challenged the complacency and ties to privilege that, he said, compromised much of the Christian Church and its leaders. During his years in the underground, Cedric also built important links between the internal and external parts of the liberation movement.

To remember Cedric on 23 May has added import. He worked until old age within the ANC to keep the organization’s moral compass on course. Sadly, during his last years, he shook his head in disbelief as he saw the former noble goals being replaced with brazen avarice, corruption and forsaking the poor in whose name the organisation once said it based its strength upon.

Since Cedric’s death the sloth has rapidly progressed. The Bill of Rights, Chapter Nine institutions and tenets of our Constitution are undermined and are being compromised with increasing haste. Cedric no longer witnesses the further fragmentation of the ANC or the ever deeper mire President Zuma is dragging the country into, with his powerful financial friends and his refusal to recognise that he, together with a lobby of fellow politicians, are now the very obstacle to the realisation of what we fought for. Cedric felt, and would still feel, betrayed, as countless others do.

His memory shall remain an inspiration for all those now engaged in the rescue from the situation we are in. When Cedric saw the dark clouds coming, his conscience was clear as ever. Were he with us, he would be back on the barricades demanding justice and equality for the poor in an open and democratic South Africa!

This was contributed at my request by Cedric’s closest friend and confidante Horst Kleinschmidt, who has now become an honorary member of the Mayson family. Without the guidance of the family (including our family community in the bush here in Marloth Park), I do not know how I would have been able to cope during the past year. All I am certain of is that the family support, whether by blood line or kindred spirit, has been a guiding compass in me being able to get through the months. I am deeply grateful and thank you all.

So as we remember this day, we shall also, in a time honoured family fashion, light a candle and raise a tot in his memory.

Penelope Mayson

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Horst Kleinschmidt

Until just a few years ago, Cedric worked in Luthuli House defending that which was good and upright in the ANC. In the end he was disappointed and knew that the values and hopes of our generation, and a whole nation, had been substantially squandered and mired in elitism and ill-gotten gains.

Cedric was important in my life. I was his first contraband ‘parcel’ that he flew out of South Africa, to deposit me in a mealie field somewhere near Molepolole in Botswana. In a previous time parishioners of Cedric’s had taught him how to fly. He relied on these parishioners favours to loan him their small aircraft. In the end he flew some 20 people out of the country – as in my case, to avoid further detention and because our passports had been withdrawn, the reason why the ‘parcel’ alternative was developed. In detention Cedric was treated harshly for these and many other heroic and selfless acts. His impaired hearing had to do with the assaults his interrogators inflicted on him.

Cedric edited the Christian Institute magazine Pro Veritate for several years, where he introduced an increasingly radical tone, responding to the dark times we were entering then. He must be remembered for not giving up on working for a better South Africa and a better world till the end. He and Penelope shunned comfort and material well-being, to live an honest life, and one that expressed solidarity with those whose lot in our vastly unequal world sought to change.

Please see Horst’s full tribute to Cedric in his address from the funeral.

Birgitta Karlström Dorph

I am an old friend of Cedric in Sweden. I was working with South African issues during the critical years of the 80´s and was stationed at the Swedish legation in Pretoria. Horst K just informed me about Cedric’s death.
I am so sad. He did a lot for the people of South Africa. He was a great man who took considerable risks.

I am with you in my thoughts.

Ronnie Kasrils

So sad to hear the news about Cedric Mayson.

Horst has penned a worthy and fitting tribute to a heroic South African patriot. I did not know Cedric well but was always impressed by his warmth, integrity and devotion to the cause for a better South Africa and world.

He was a decent human being and will be sorely missed and not forgotten.

Amina and I convey our condolences to his devoted wife Penelope and family.
They can rest assured that Cedric’s contribution was not unnoticed by our people and that he lived a worthy life. We are sure that tributes like Horst’s will give them the strength they need at this time of grief – but also celebration of a life of consequence.

How we need sterling people like Cedric Mayson in these difficult and challenging times. He leaves an impressive example of dedication to the born frees and all of good will.