6 December 2013
South Africans from all walks of life continued to arrive at the corner of 4th and 12th Avenue in Houghton, Johannesburg on Friday to pay their respects to former president Nelson Mandela, who passed away on Thursday night.
There were mixed emotions as candles burnt on the pavement lawn outside the late Mandela’s home. The mood was sombre but also celebratory as the crowds sang freedom songs and the national anthem, and people laid down tributes in the form of flowers, photographs, national flags, and decorated personal messages.
Madiba died peacefully with his family by his bedside at 8:50 pm on Thursday night, and crowds began gathering outside his home as soon as news of his departure spread, prompting the closure of some streets to motor vehicles.
Local resident Andrea, 21, said it was a blessing to have lived in the same neighbourhood as Mandela, adding that he had not just been their neighbour. “He was our grandfather. And the thought of him not being around anymore is a scary one.”
Kenosi Machepa, Mandela’s next-door neighbour, said that while she took pride in the fact that she and others lived next to a world icon, it was difficult to claim him as their own. “We can say it has been a privilege to live next door to him,” she said.
Globally, meanwhile, as tributes from political, religious and civil society leaders at home and abroad continued to pour in on Friday, Mandela’s passing became a trending topic on social media networks, with millions of people from all over the world celebrating of his life and legacy.
And as the country’s flags were lowered to half-mast, Ster-Kinekor theatres announced that they would not be screening Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom for the next 24 hours, Primedia Broadcasting suspended all advertising on its radio stations, and the Johannesburg Stock Exchnage (JSE) suspended trading for 5 minutes at 11am as a mark of respect for Mandela’s passing.
“We lost the father of our nation, and join millions of people around the world today in mourning,” Primedia Group CEO Kuben Pillay said in a statement.
“Thank you Madiba,” Pillay said. “Thank you for giving up your freedom so that we could have ours, for teaching us grace and humility and showing us a better way. A great light has indeed gone out, and while we celebrate his life and legacy, we are deeply saddened by his passing.”