Cape Town sets doves free for Mandela

9 December 2013

National Planning Minister Trevor Manuel has urged the City of Cape Town to name the balcony at City Hall after Nelson Mandela as it is “hallowed ground”.

Manuel reminded the hundreds of Capetonians gathered in front of City Hall on Sunday for an interfaith service to remember Mandela that it was from this balcony that Nelson Mandela addressed the world for the first time after his release from prison on 11 February 1990. It was also here that he spoke before his inauguration as president of the country.

Although the mood was sombre, the gathered crowd applauded when Manuel said: “When Madiba was released and [former state president] FW de Klerk offered to fly him to Joburg so that he could have his first rally in Joburg, he said: ‘No I am part of the people of Cape Town, I have been here for 27 years. This is my home and the first place that I can report and must report is to the people of Cape Town.'”

Manuel, who served under Mandela as Finance Minister, spoke at the service that was part of South Africa’s national week of mourning for the former president. Flags were flying at half mast.

Former Springbok wing Chester Williams, who was part of the team that won the 1995 Rugby World Cup, bid Mandela an emotional farewell: “We need to lift this legacy he left. We need more leaders like him,” said Williams. “To the world he was Nelson Mandela, to me he was the world.”

Condolences

Meanwhile, South Africans and visitors are continuing to pay homage to former president Nelson Mandela at Cape Town’s Grand Parade. Bunches of flowers, colourful wreaths, letters and placards containing words of condolences filled up a fence set up in front of the City Hall.

“Dear Mandela, We are bornfrees [a term used to describe those born after the end of apartheid] thanks to you. We love you,” one of the notices read.

Another one signed by “an Angolan living in the city” reads: “Tata [literally, “father”] is gone, but we will never forget about you, a giant of the liberation … epitome of reconciliation.”

The city has also opened books of condolence and has set up computer terminals in front of City Hall to allow visitors to leave online dedications on a wall of condolence created on city’s website. See www.capetown.gov.za/nelsonmandela.

“Thank you for the legacy that you have left. We will live on with your message of peace and forgiveness,” wrote Tatum Hendricks in one of the books of condolence.

‘He changed my life completely’

Those that SAnews spoke to at the Grand Parade were emotional about the former president’s passing. Daniel Stemmet from Hermanus said Mandela had changed his life. “I’m a gay person, and because of him I was allowed to get married and I was allowed to adopt a child, so he’s changed my life completely.”

Capetonian Gwen Godlo said she was still trying to come to terms with Mandela’s death: “I felt so sad, because he was everything to us, an inspiration”.

Desmond Fillis, who is visiting from Port Elizabeth, said, “He’s changed South Africa for all of us, it doesn’t matter what your colour is. He did it with so much sacrifice to him and his family, so there’s no way that people – especially South Africans – can not honour this man and his lifetime.”

Masixole Velem, from King Williams Town who is studying in Cape Town, said, “I’m actually here to afford him the chance to rest in peace. He’s done a lot for South Africa in contributing to South Africa, all colours, the rainbow nation, together for a common purpose.”

Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille on Sunday announced a series of events to take place in the city to honour Mandela. These include a commemorative event at the Cape Town Stadium on Wednesday.

    • Details on the programme of commemorative events planned by the City of Cape Town are available at www.capetown.gov.za

SAinfo reporter and SAnews.gov