2 May 2012
A campaign to reduce the number of children killed and injured in road accidents, while honouring the memory of Nelson Mandela’s great-granddaughter Zenani, was launched in New York on Wednesday.
Zenani Mandela was tragically killed in a car crash ahead of the 2010 Fifa World Cup, just two days after her 13th birthday.
The Zenani Campaign, led by her mother Zoleka Mandela and grandmother Zindzi Mandela, will contribute to the United Nations Decade of Action for Road Safety, which aims to improve the level of protection for children on roads mainly in developing countries.
The campaign will also form part of Mandela Day, which is marked across the world on 18 July each year to inspire people to take action to change the world for the better and, in doing so, to build a global movement for good.
Road casualties ‘not just a tragic fact’
At the launch in New York City on Wednesday, the Mandela family was joined by South African Transport Minister Sibusiso Ndebele and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
“In common with many people, I used to think that road casualties were just a tragic fact of life, about which nothing could be done,” Zindzi Mandela said. “I did not ask how we can prevent this, what actions can we take. But so much can be done to save young lives.
“We can, and we must do much more to protect our children,” Mandela said. “Support the Zenani Campaign. Demand protection for children on the roads, and let us ensure that in future, other families do not have to suffer the pain that my family has suffered.”
Also speaking at the launch, Ndebele said that, at the current rate, road crashes would be the number one killer of children aged between 5 and 14 in Africa by 2015, outstripping Malaria and HIV.
“Pedestrians alone account for nearly 40 percent of road fatalities in our country annually,” he said.
Two weeks ago, the South African Department of Transport, in partnership with Eqstra Fleet Management and Logistics, the Nelson Mandela Foundation and the UN, officially launched the “Think Pedestrian” campaign, aimed at intensive road safety awareness and education programmes.
Mayor Bloomberg said that almost 1.3-million people were killed and millions more injured on the world’s roads every year, and that many of those victims were children.
“There’s a strong and growing network of organisations working around the world to implement proven interventions including tougher speeding, seat-belt and helmet rules, and an increase in safe school crossings and more footpaths,” Bloomberg said.
“This campaign is yet another positive step forward in efforts to address this leading cause of death and save more lives.”
‘We’ll never get Zenani back’
Supermodel Naomi Campbell, who had a close relationship with Zenani, said: “There are far too many children being killed – 1 000 every day. The family will never get over the pain of her loss, and we’ll never get Zenani back.
“But she was such a positive little girl that she would have wanted to make a difference,” Campbell said. “In memory of Zenani Mandela, I support this campaign. Lives can be saved, and we need action right now.”
F1 star Lewis Hamilton also gave his support: “Every three minutes a young child dies on the world’s roads. I’m supporting the Zenani Campaign and the UN Decade of Action for Road Safety, because we need action now to prevent more tragedies.”