235pp., illus., paperback, Johannesburg, 2023
Leon Levy was born in 1929 in Johannesburg. He began work at the age of 16 and became an active trade unionist, serving as secretary of the National Union of Laundering, Cleaning and Dyeing Workers and the Transvaal Food Canning and Allied Workers Union. In 1955 he was elected President of the South African Congress of Trade Unions (SACTU). He was also secretary of the South African Peace Council (1951-1961), a member of the South African Congress of Democrats, and SACTU’S representative on the National Consultative Committee. As SACTU's President, he was one of the signatories of the Freedom Charter.
Levy was repeatedly placed under banning orders and confined to the magisterial district of Johannesburg. In 1956 he was one of 156 people, including Nelson Mandela, charged with high treason. All the defendants were eventually acquitted. Levy went into exile in the UK in 1963. After his return to South Africa in 1997 he played a key role in COSATU’s submission to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. He joined the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration in 1999 and served as a senior Commissioner for close to 12 years.