22 April 2009
Voting came to a temporary halt at the Killarney Country Club in Houghton, Johannesburg as South Africa’s favourite citizen, former president Nelson Mandela, cast his vote in the country’s 2009 general elections.
Wearing his famous Madiba shirt in a bright yellow, and a black overcoat to ward off the morning chill – with his trademark 46664 Aids awareness badge pinned to it – Mandela walked into the voting station with the help of his cane, assisted by Gauteng Premier Paul Mashatile.
Over 100 journalists, photographers and voters witnessed as he cast his vote in the presence of Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) chairperson Brigalia Bam.
After casting his vote, Mandela cast a glorious smile and waved at the cheering crowd.
Mandela, now 90 years old, could have qualified for a special vote on Monday or Tuesday, but chose to brave Wednesday’s chilly weather to make his mark, an inspiration to all citizens that if he could do it, so could they.
Jacob Zuma’s daughters
Meanwhile, outside the voting station, a queue of hundreds of voters snaked its way around the block. Among those present at the venue were African National Congress (ANC) president Jacob Zuma’s daughters, Duduzile and Phumzile.
“It feels fantastic to witness Madiba casting his vote,” said Duduzile, who voted earlier that morning at the Holy Family Convent – where former president Thabo Mbeki also voted.
Duduzile joked that her sister Phumzile, 22, who was a first-time voter, couldn’t find the ANC block on her ballot. “She could not recognise her own father,” laughed Duduzile.
Speaking to BuaNews after Madiba had cast his vote, Bam said that initial reports were that the voting process was going “amazingly well” countrywide.
At some voting stations, she said, voters had started queuing from before dawn. Bam said the IEC expected as many as 20-million South Africans to visit the polling stations countrywide before they closed at 9pm.