The James Mange Story: Freedom Fighter and Climate Justice Advocate

James Mange

James Mange was only 24 years old when he was sentenced to death on November, 15 1979. Him and his other 11 co-accused were found guilty of treason and were handed sentences of between 14 and 19 years in jail, but only James got the death penalty, handed down by Judge Joos Hefer. He spent a year in Pretoria Maximum Prison before his sentence was commuted to 20 years following an international Campaign to save his life. He did not know about the campaign until the day of his appeal court date, September 11, 1980. He was then transferred to Robben Island where he would serve 14 years of his sentence and was released in 1990.

Poster apparently issued as part of a campaign to save the life of James Mange who was sentenced to death on November 15, 1979 after being convicted of high treason. Mange was a member of the African National Congress’s military wing uMkhonto weSizwe (MK). Following an international campaign, on September 11, 1980 the Bloemfontein Appeal Court commuted his sentence to 20 years, which he served on Robben Island. The poster was produced in cooperation with the United Nations Center against Apartheid. [Size: 23-1/2 x 13-1/2 inches.] Collection: Private collection of David Wiley and Christine Root

It was during his time at Robben Island that he converted to Rastafari, growing his dreadlocks and became the first prisoner in South Africa to refuse to cut his hair. He formed a reggae band called the Whiplashes and they would perform in prison on special occasions.

On his release from prison he formed his own political party, The Soccer Party [Sports Organization for Collective Contributions and Equal Rights] participating in the 1994 democratic elections.

He continued to be actively involved in music organising the Reggae Moonshine Africa Festival and launched it with an event dubbed: A Night of Political History with James Mange in Johannesburg and has recorded and released over 10 albums which are available on all digital platforms.

James Mange continues to be a freedom fighter lending his voice and activism to social issues and focusing particularly on environmental and global climate change issues.

James Mange

Next: Interview with Perceval Gaillard in ReUnion Island