Goldberg, who lived in Hout Bay, Cape Town, passed away overnight at the age of 87.
The president recognised that the liberation fighter had received a National Order for his commitment to the struggle against apartheid and service to the people of South Africa.
Upon receiving news of Goldberg’s passing, the National Coronavirus Command Council observed a moment’s silence in honour of “this special patriot”, said the Presidency in a statement.
Giving a summary of his life, the Presidency said he was born in Cape Town in 1933, grew up in an intellectual family and became acutely aware of national as well as international politics at an early age.
In the early 1950s, Goldberg joined the Congress of Democrats and the Communist Party underground.
“His keen sense of justice prompted him early on in life to fight injustices of this country.”
In 1963, Goldberg was arrested at the Rivonia Headquarters of uMkhonto weSizwe, the armed wing of the African National Congress. He was sentenced in 1964 at the end of the Rivonia Trial to four terms of life imprisonment. He was the only white member of MK to be arrested and sentenced in the trial.
In 1985, after 22 years of imprisonment, he was set free and reunited with his family in London where he continued to work for the ANC.
Ramaphosa said: “My thoughts are with Denis Goldberg’s family and his comrades around the country and around the world.
“This is a sad moment for our nation and a moment for all of us to appreciate Denis Goldberg’s brave dedication to our struggle and his lifelong activism in the interest of – and in the physical presence of – poor and vulnerable communities around our country.
“His first experience of prison was alongside his mother who had been detained for four months, but such experiences failed to intimidate him; instead, it fuelled his determination that the liberation movement should use all strategies at its disposal, including armed resistance, to end apartheid.
“His commitment to ethical leadership was unflinching and even during his advanced age, he formed part of the movement of veterans of the struggle calling for reassertion of moral centre of society. He dedicated his life to achieving the better life we enjoy today and his revolutionary contribution reinforced the nonracial character of our struggle and of our democratic dispensation.
“We will hold him in our thoughts and prayers as we say farewell at a time when we are not allowed to gather in numbers to say our goodbyes.
“May his soul rest in peace.”
(Edited by Charles Cilliers)