Mahlangu is a leader of Women of Zimbabwe Arise (Woza), founded by Jenni Williams. When presenting the award to them both, Obama commented: "By her example, Magodonga has shown the women of WOZA and the people of Zimbabwe that they can undermine their oppressors' power with their own power -- that they can sap a dictator's strength with their own. Her courage has inspired others to summon theirs." In her remarks accepting the award, Mahlangu quoted Robert F. Kennedy, saying, "The future is not a gift: it is an achievement. Every generation helps make its own future."
As of 2008, Mahlangu had been arrested more than 25 times by the Mugabe government. Human Rights Watch denounced the repeated arrests of Mahlangu and Williams, stating after one arrest that the Zimbabwean government should release the women and "allow civil society the right to demonstrate peacefully".
Mahlangu was raised in the South Matebeleland area and educated at a private school where she received a diploma in coaching and sports administration. Eventually she had her own athletics club. She began organising protests for WOZA in 2003. Mahlangu's family now live outside Zimbabwe. She is unmarried and has no children.
- Obama awards - and kisses - Zimbabwe women activists. BBC News, 24 November 2009. Retrieved 15 October 2011.
- PRESIDENT OBAMA AND ETHEL KENNEDY PRESENT RFK AWARD TO ZIMBABWEAN RIGHTS DEFENDER AND MOVEMENT RFK Center, 23 November 2009. Retrieved 15 October 2011.
- REMARKS BY MAGODONGA MAHLANGU: 2009 RFK HUMAN RIGHTS AWARD CEREMONY RFK Center, 23 November 2009. Retrieved 15 October 2011.
- Celean Jacobson (2 July 2008). "US calls for Zimbabwe to free rights activists". USA Today. Associated Press. Retrieved 9 June 2012.
- "Zimbabwe: End Crackdown on Peaceful Demonstrators". Human Rights Watch. 28 October 2008. Retrieved 9 June 2012.
- "Tell a Woman: WOZA spreads the word in Zimbabwe" by Maggie Paterson in Amnesty Magazine, Issue 168, July/August 2011.