Nelson Mandela has passed away: Tata Madiba

Written by on December 6, 2013 in News

madiba passes away

Nelson Mandela (1918- 2013)  has passed away on Thursday evening 5 December at around 20h50 in his home in Houghton. South Africa has lost Madiba. There was an unsual chill in the air in this summer evening in Johannesburg South Africa today. Nelson Mandela has passed away at the age of 95.  I remember clearly the day Nelson Mandela came out of prison, there was a buzz and energy in the air that day. I remember clearly the day I met Nelson Mandela. We will miss you Madiba. South Africa has a role model and witnessed a humble hero like yourself. Thank you for your service to the country and making it a better place. May South Africa live up to your legacy. Although we as a nation are in mourning, we celebrate your life and legacy.



Nelson Mandela Memorial and Funeral arrangements and transport

Funeral arrangements & services

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela will be laid to rest during an official state funeral, which will take place over a period of 10 days.

Former president Nelson Mandela will be buried at Qunu in the Eastern Cape on 15 December 2013, following an official memorial service on 10 December at FNB stadium in Johannesburg.

South African flags at all official buildings will fly at half-mast throughout the period.

The public will be given ample opportunity to pay their last respects to former President Mandela. There are public venues throughout the country that will serve as memorial centres where people will be able to participate in public mourning events.

Books of condolence are being circulated to all municipalities andgovernment departments. People can also post tributes, record memories and express their emotions at the Government Facebook page.

Books of condolence is be available at our diplomatic missions around the world.

Memorial service – 10 December 2013

The public and media are welcome to attend a memorial service for former President Mandela at the FNB Stadium on 10 December. Gates will open at 06h00 and the service will start at 11h00.

Details on the service are available under Memorial service.

Lying in State – 11 to 13 December 2013

South Africans and selected international visitors and guests will be able to view President Mandela’s remains at the Union Buildings for three days from Wednesday, 11 December.

President Mandela’s remains will be transported daily between 1 Military Hospital, Thaba Tshwane, and the Union Buildings. The procession will leave 1 Military Hospital at 07h00 daily and President Mandela’s body will be on view from 08h00.

On Wednesday December 11, the Mandela family and VVIPs will view the body from 10h00.

Members of the public will file past the body from 12h00 to 17h30.

On Thursday and Friday, 12 and 13 December, the public will have access to casket from 08h00 to 17h30.

Government appeals to people to work with the various agencies of government who will manage this route so that this daily event will be dignified and secure.

Two sites in Pretoria will be used as points from which mourners will be shuttled to the Union Buildings and back. No other access will be possible. Mourners are also advised that cellphones will need to be off and out of sight as mourners file past the body.

Details of this route and times will be provided later. Government invites mourners to line this route and form a public guard of honour for Tata Madiba each morning when the remains are transported. The public guard of honour will not apply in the evening.

Again, we call on members of the public to cooperate with the authorities to ensure that this event is dignified and secure.

Transporting of remains to Qunu – Saturday, 14 December 2013

On Saturday, 14 December, the former President’s remains will be transported to the Eastern Cape from Air Force Base Waterkloof in Pretoria, where the ruling party will bid Madiba farewell.

The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) will take charge of this leg of the State funeral.

A military Guard of Honour will welcome the mortal remains which will be draped in the national flag.

Upon arrival at Mthatha Airport the SANDF contingent will perform the ceremonial removal of the Mortal Remains form the aircraft.

The coffin will be placed on a gun carriage and then transported into a hearse.

The SANDF will sound the national anthem while the Guard of Honour will Present Arms and salute.

The mortal remains will thereafter be transported to the family home in Qunu, where the Thembu community will conduct a traditional ceremony.

State funeral service at Qunu – 15 December 2013

The funeral service at Qunu will conclude the 10 day State funeral period.

The Mandela family, the President and Cabinet, Heads of State, and other dignitaries will be in attendance.

The SANDF will again be charged with draping the coffin. A National Salute will be performed and the National Anthem will be played.

South African Airways will operate a special air transport service to ferry mourners who will attend the funeral of world icon and former president Nelson Mandela in the Eastern Cape.

This special service – for which travellers will pay – will cater for mourners who will attend the funeral and the service will also be available on the return leg of their travel.

The special service does not replace and will not disrupt SAA’s existing daily operations to the Eastern Cape – except that airspace will be restricted around Mthatha.

Statement by Minister Collins Chabane on behalf of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on the State Funerals on the arrangements of President Nelson Mandela’s State Funeral, 8 December 2013

Road closures



On Tuesday 10 December, FNB Stadium will host the official memorial service at 11am and gates will open between 6 and 7am. The event will be attended by members of the public, officials and world leaders.

Zuma will address the official memorial service andhe programme will also include tributes by heads of state from various regions of the globe.

Around 90 big screens will be set up by Government Communications (GCIS) and partners in all provinces, with this number likely to increase as provincial plans are consolidated.

The Soccer City stadium also known as FNB stadium is pictured in Soweto, outside Johannesburg, on April 3, 2013. Picture: AFP.



Click here to download the City of Joburg’s press release on travel arrangements to the memorial.

While the main service will take place at FNB Stadium in Nasrec, live broadcasts will be screened at the Ellis Park, Orlando and Dobsonville stadiums.

Free public transport and park and rides facilities will accommodate mourners as no cars will be allowed near FNB Stadium.

Roads in the area will be closed from Sunday night.

Mourners are urged to arrive early at the stadiums. Parking venues and bus services will be operating from 6am.

Note that normal bus services offered by Rea Vaya, Metrobus and Putco may be disrupted on the day.

Mourners to FNB Stadium can choose to travel in one of the following ways:

– Travel by Metrorail from all major stations in Gauteng. Trains will leave on an hourly basis.
– Travel by Gautrain to Park Station and transfer to Metrorail to FNB Stadium.
– Walk from the surrounding areas to the stadium.
– Use the special Rea Vaya BRT service which will operate as follows:

T1: From Ellis Park East Rea Vaya Station via Library Gardens Westbound Rea Vaya Station and Westgate Rea Vaya Station to Soccer City Rea Vaya Station
T3: From UJ Sophiatown Rea Vaya Station via Soweto Highway to Nasrec North Rea Vaya Station.
Drive to a Park and Ride site and travel by Rea Vaya BRT or bus to the stadium.

– The following are the Park and Ride sites but mourners are urged to watch the press for updates:

Standard Bank, entrance No 1 Simmond Street, Johannesburg CBD.
Opening parking next to Rea Vaya Westgate Station, entrance in Anderson Street, Johannesburg CBD.
University of Johannesburg, Kingsway Campus.
Gold Reef City (Casino), entrance in Northern Parkway, Ormonde.
Apartheid Museum, entrance in Northern Parkway, Ormonde.

Doornfontein, Johannesburg – Ellis Park Stadium:

– Travel by Metrorail from Park Station to Ellis Park
– Walk from the nearby areas of Hillbrow, Yeoville, Bertrams, Troyeville, etc.
– Walk from the University of Johannesburg, Doornfontein Campus, entrance in Beit Street, Doornfontein
– Use the special Rea Vaya BRT service which will operate as follows:

T1: From Westgate Rea Vaya Station via Library Gardens East Bound Rea Vaya Station to Ellis Park East Rea Vaya Station.
From Braamfontein (Johannesburg Theatre and Conhil Rea Vaya Stations) to Ellis Park North Rea Vaya Station.
Drive to a Park and Ride site and travel by Rea Vaya BRT or bus to the stadium.

– The following are the Park and Ride sites, subject to change.

Constitution Hill, entrance in Joubert Street, Braamfontein.
Metro Centre, entrance in Civil Boulevard, Braamfontein.
Thuso House, entrance in Stiemens Street, Braamfontein.
Wits University, West Campus.
Bez Valley Park, entrance in Marcia Street, Observatory.
ABSA Towers, entrance in Main Street, Johannesburg CBD.

Orlando, Soweto – Orlando Stadium:

– Travel by Metrorail from Vereeniging and Naledi Stations
– Walk from the nearby areas of Mlamlankunzi, Orlando West, Orlando East, etc.
– Drive to the Park and Ride at either Northgate or Westbank, Enterprise Rd (Just off Beyer’s Naude Drive), Fairland and catch a bus to Orlando Stadium
– Catch a marked PUTCO bus from the following areas:

Protea Glean; Merafe; Molapo; Bara/Diepkloof; Chiawelo; Mapetla; Dube; Meadowlands.

Dobsonville, Soweto – Dobsonville Stadium

– Walk from the nearby areas of Tshepisong, Braamfisher, Mfulo, etc.
– Catch a marked PUTCO bus from the following areas:

Emdeni; Naledi; Dobsonville; Orange Farm; Silvertown; Braamfisher.

The City of Johannesburg says further details will be made available on their website.

Road closures for the memorial event:

Chabane says the following roads and interchanges near the venue will be closed and controlled by law enforcement agencies:

– N1 and Rand Show Road
– N1 and Soweto Highway
– N1 and 17
– N1 and Nasrec offramp
– Greenwood Road and Booysens Reserve
– Nasrec and Main Reef Roads

“We request mourners to give the organising authorities their fullest cooperation, as we endeavour to ensure that the memorial service and other events are dignified and befitting for Madiba,” Chabane says.

Further details as to times, other transport interruptions and venue capacity will be provided as they become available, he adds.



On Wednesday 11 December, the City of Cape Town will host its official memorial service at the Cape Town Stadium.

Mayor Patricia de Lille says thousands are expected to attend the memorial where a number of artists will perform.

She says in a bid to maintain order and safety there, there will be a coupon system to regulate entry into the stadium. A maximum of five coupons are available per person free of charge.

Cape Town Stadium. Picture:


Mandela’s body will lie in state at the seat of government, the Union Buildings, from Wednesday 11 December to Friday 13 December.

A procession will leave 1 Military Hospital at 7am daily and government is encouraging the public to form a guard of honour along the route each morning.

On Wednesday, the Mandela family and VVIPs will view the body from 10am.

Members of the public will file past the body from 12pm to 5.30pm.

On Thursday and Friday,  the public will have access to casket from 8am to 5.30pm.

Two sites in Pretoria will be used as points from which mourners will be shuttled to the Union Buildings and back. No other access will be possible. Mourners are also advised that cellphones will need to be off and out of sight as mourners file past the body.

Away from the memorial route, members of the public wishing to pay their final respects will be shuttled to the Union Buildings from two central venues in Tshwane that are still to be announced.

Only mourners who report to these venues will be allowed to visit the Union Buildings and view the remains.

Cameras and cellphones will not be allowed at the Union Buildings.

The Union Buildings in Pretoria


On Saturday 14 December, the focus will shift to the Eastern Cape.

The former president’s remains will be transported to his home province from the Waterkloof Air Force Base in Pretoria where the ruling party will bid Madiba farewell.

At the same time, a procession will take place from Mthatha to Qunu where the Thembu community will conduct a traditional ceremony.

Finally, on Sunday 15 December, the official state funeral will take place.

The service and interment ceremony will take place at Madiba’s home and final resting place in Qunu. More information will be released in the coming days about arrangements.

South African Airways has announced it will provide a special air transport service to ferry mourners who will attend the funeral of world icon and former president Nelson Mandela in the Eastern Cape.

source: ewn



Address to the nation by President Jacob Zuma on the departure of former President Nelson Mandela

5 December 2013

My Fellow South Africans,
Our beloved Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, the founding President of our democratic nation has departed.
He passed on peacefully in the company of his family around 20h50 on the 5th of December 2013.
He is now resting. He is now at peace.
Our nation has lost its greatest son. Our people have lost a father.
Although we knew that this day would come, nothing can diminish our sense of a profound and enduring loss.
His tireless struggle for freedom earned him the respect of the world.
His humility, his compassion, and his humanity earned him their love. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Mandela family. To them we owe a debt of gratitude.
They have sacrificed much and endured much so that our people could be free.
Our thoughts are with his wife Mrs Graca Machel, his former wife Ms Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, with his children, his grand-children, his great grand-children and the entire family.
Our thoughts are with his friends, comrades and colleagues who fought alongside Madiba over the course of a lifetime of struggle.
Our thoughts are with the South African people who today mourn the loss of the one person who, more than any other, came to embody their sense of a common nationhood.
Our thoughts are with the millions of people across the world who embraced Madiba as their own, and who saw his cause as their cause.
This is the moment of our deepest sorrow.
Our nation has lost its greatest son.
Yet, what made Nelson Mandela great was precisely what made him human. We saw in him what we seek in ourselves.
And in him we saw so much of ourselves.
Fellow South Africans,
Nelson Mandela brought us together, and it is together that we will bid him farewell.
Our beloved Madiba will be accorded a State Funeral.
I have ordered that all flags of the Republic of South Africa be lowered to half-mast from tomorrow, 6 December, and to remain at half-mast until after the funeral.
As we gather to pay our last respects, let us conduct ourselves with the dignity and respect that Madiba personified.
Let us be mindful of his wishes and the wishes of his family.
As we gather, wherever we are in the country and wherever we are in the world, let us recall the values for which Madiba fought.
Let us reaffirm his vision of a society in which none is exploited, oppressed or dispossessed by another.
Let us commit ourselves to strive together – sparing neither strength nor courage – to build a united, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous South Africa.
Let us express, each in our own way, the deep gratitude we feel for a life spent in service of the people of this country and in the cause of humanity.
This is indeed the moment of our deepest sorrow.
Yet it must also be the moment of our greatest determination.
A determination to live as Madiba has lived, to strive as Madiba has strived and to not rest until we have realised his vision of a truly united South Africa, a peaceful and prosperous Africa, and a better world.
We will always love you Madiba!
May your soul rest in peace.
God Bless Africa.
Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika.


The last time I saw Madiba

tata madiba




Out of the night that covers me,
      Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
      For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
      I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
      My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
      Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
      Finds and shall find me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
      How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
      I am the captain of my soul.

Brenda Fassie – My Black president

what emotion she has in this song

Nelson Mandela speech when released from prison 11 Feb 1990

 Nelson Mandela Free at last..


Lovely song for Nelson Mandela and what is even more special seeing Madiba coming on stage..

Asimbonanga (We have not seen him)
Asimbonang’ uMandela thina (We have not seen Mandela)
Laph’ekhona (In the place where he is)
Laph’ehleli khona (In the place where he is kept)

Oh the sea is cold and the sky is grey
Look across the Island into the Bay
We are all islands till comes the day
We cross the burning water


A seagull wings across the sea
Broken silence is what I dream
Who has the words to close the distance
Between you and me


Steve Biko, Victoria Mxenge
Neil Aggett
Asimbonang ‘umfowethu thina (we have not seen our brother)
Laph’ekhona (In the place where he is)
Laph’wafela khona (In the place where he died)
Hey wena (Hey you!)
Hey wena nawe (Hey you and you as well)
Siyofika nini la’ siyakhona (When will we arrive at our destination)

Tribute to Nelson Mandela from Ahmed Kathrada

Distributed by the Nelson Mandela Foundation on behalf of Mr Ahmed Kathrada

Madala, as you light-heartedly started calling me some years ago, it both grieves me and inspires me to write this to you now, with the hour of your death still a fresh wound in our peoples’ hearts.

We called each other ‘Madala’ – old man – it became our standard form of informal address. To me it signifies mutual trust, respect, liking and close comradeship. In a wider sense, this one word brings out much more. It encapsulates the foundation of the very qualities that set you apart from other men. Foremost is your sincere and consistent ability and skill in relating as equals to fellow beings from all walks of life – royalty, peasants, prime ministers, business people, presidents, workers, scientists, the illiterate, children, men and women: you treat, and regard, all as equal and equally deserving of respect, decency and dignity. You embodied the epitome of respect for your fellow beings, and the ability to relate easily to every strata of society.

This outstanding quality reminds me of my first encounter with you in 1945 or 1946 at Ismail Meer’s Flat 13, Kholvad House in Johannesburg. What sticks in my memory is: Here I was, a mere 16 or 17-year-old high school kid, and you at university. There were just a handful of students at Wits University who were not white. And my meeting with you became special. Our little time together was sufficient for me to boast to my school mates about this university student who showed so much interest in me, my studies, my interest in sports and future plans. He put me completely at ease and made me feel part of their adult conversation.

Little could we visualise then that this little meeting was to be the beginning of an increasingly closer relationship, not only with me, but with Flat 13. Your visits became frequent. During the Treason Trial, and specifically in 1960, there was dramatic change in the status of Flat 13. Oliver Tambo was sent into exile, resulting in the closure of the law firm of Mandela and Tambo. Now, what had been your occasional use of Flat 13 was transformed into your full-time law office.

I’m almost sure Long Walk to Freedom confirms what had been a couple of clients a day increased to a point where all three rooms were occupied! You jokingly said that was when I threatened to evict you. I cannot guess for how long this would have continued had you not gone underground soon after our acquittal in the Treason Trial.

Your abundant reserves of love, simplicity, honesty, service, humility, care, courage, foresight, patience, tolerance, equality and justice continually served as a source of enormous strength to me and so many millions of people around the world.

Perhaps for me these qualities were all the more profound for I know the depths of self-sacrifice and personal pain that were so easily missed beneath your ever-present and sincere smile. Yet your smile, which lingers still, was always from the heart, never forced or used for expediency’s sake, and the great joy you took in the world around you, especially in children, was unmistakeable. Most of all you symbolise, and always will, collective leadership, reconciliation, unity, forgiveness, nation-building and a non-racial, non-sexist, democratic South Africa.

One of your very important qualities that stands out is your self-confidence and absence of pettiness. An important example of this is your attitude towards opposition parties; they are not enemies but political rivals. We could work together on issues that would be in accordance with our basic aim of devoting our time and resources towards the upliftment of the needy. An obvious and most important example was when all political parties, including the Nationalist Party were invited to the Congress of the People in 1955.

It is for these qualities that, in your illness and death, you once more unite a huge diversity of people in the goodwill, good wishes and prayers of the people of our country, and, indeed, of the entire world. In these qualities you continue to bring unity to a world so often torn apart by intolerance, by discrimination, by injustice, by the violence of poverty, and by fear and mistrust. Your power to inspire and bring out the good in people grows with each year that passes. I believe it is an incomparable gift, given at immeasurable personal cost, that will continue to cast a bright light in a world often beset by uncertainty and complex moral choices, both nationally and individually: a lodestar for leaders of substance and courage.

Indeed, your strength lies in your ability to reflect on your experience with honest and open eyes, to see where you may have made misjudgements and to adapt to changing circumstances. Your openness to change and the collective guidance of the broadest collective of colleagues has fuelled the bright star of your leadership and the reach of your influence.

From bringing youthful leadership to members of the ANC Youth League, a role that challenged you to reflect on the limitations of policies of exclusivity and polarity (for instance, your anti-Communism and opposition to united action with other liberation organisations) you saw the value of working with a diverse range of people with a range of beliefs, committed to the greater good, both within the ANC and beyond. You also adapted your views and strategies to changing circumstances, for example, shifting the terrain of the struggle from peaceful resistance to an armed struggle, always taking care to ensure that targets were legitimate structures of oppression and that respect for the sanctity of life was maintained.

Later, in prison, you and fellow members of the High Organ took the lead in uniting the prisoners across the artificial divisions of party-affiliation against the common foe, the prison administration. The qualities you embody provided a wellspring of strength when you emerged victorious from the prison gate with the world as your audience. Despite the heavy expectations of you, you exceeded South Africans’ greatest dreams in providing vision, lack of self-interest, cohesion, peace, love and a multi-faceted national identity to a country rent asunder by years of socially-engineered hatred and fear. It is on record that you initially declined the ANC’s decision for you to be its Presidential candidate, explaining that the position would be more suitable for a younger person, male or female. When you eventually agreed, you made it clear it would be for one term only. Your term as President and your gracious departure only built on the unshakeable foundations of what you have forged. South Africa, Africa and the world embrace you. In death you once more challenge people from every strata, religion, and position to think about how their own actions do and can change the world for better or worse. We hope that the challenge will always be met with commitment, humility and integrity. The goodness in you resonates with and amplifies the goodness in others.

It is with this ever present in my mind that I will always remember you.

We have known each other for 67 years, and I never imagined I’d be witness to the unavoidable and traumatic reality of your passing.

My visit to you in hospital was filled with an overwhelming mixture of sadness, emotion and pride. At the same time it was profoundly heart-breaking and brought me to the verge of tears when my thoughts automatically flashed back to the man I grew up under. How I wished the day never came when I had to confront the reality of the tall, healthy and strong man with a commanding presence reduced to a shadow of yourself.

You have left us to join the ‘A Team’ of our struggle: Chief Luthuli, Walter Sisulu, Oliver Tambo, Yusuf Dadoo, Jack Simons, Moses Kotane, Bram Fischer, Monty Naicker, JB Marks, Helen Joseph, Rusty Bernstein, Ruth First, Joe Slovo, Professor ZK Matthews, Beyers Naude, Lilian Ngoyi, Ma Sisulu and Michael Harmel.
Your inevitable death can never take from our country and the world the values and ideals which you symbolise and shared with us. You are the last of the A-Team to leave us. I again feel the way I did on the night of May 5, 2000, when I was informed of the death of our very dear Tyopho, as we lovingly called Walter. To me, over the years he had become the father I had lost in 1944. I could, and did turn to him for the most personal advice. Now I have lost you, my older brother, comrade and leader. I feel bereft and lonely. To whom do I turn for solace, comfort, and advice?

I had the enviable privilege of being alive and walking the earth with you through the bad times and the good. It has been a long walk, with many challenges that at times seemed insurmountable. And yet we never faltered, and the strength of leaders like you and Walter always shone a light on the path and kept our destination and our people’s future in view.

For invaluable leadership, courage, inspiration and foresight I feel fortunate to have been with you and Tyopho in the three major court cases of the 1950s and 1960s – the Defiance Campaign Trial of 1952, in which we were convicted and sentenced to nine months suspended for two years; the Treason Trial of 1956 to 1961, which would have sent us to jail had we been convicted and the Rivonia Trial of 1963-64 for which we were sentenced to life imprisonment.

However, it was at the Rivonia Trial, when our lawyers and we, the accused, expected that we would receive the death sentence and be hanged, that your exemplary courage, foresight and leadership came to the fore.
You opened the defence case with what has become a universally acclaimed historical address to the court of law. You set the trend of the defence case. In the face of the death sentence you proudly and unflinchingly proclaimed our political beliefs. You did not apologise, nor did you plead for mercy. And you added – if the death sentence is imposed, we should go down in a cloud of glory.

I cannot complete these reminiscences without recalling the almost three decades of our prison years. Considering the manifold deprivations, and the temptations, prison life brings out the best and worst in human nature.

Here again I must recall your exemplary leadership, which you continuously and rightly reminded us was part of a collective. Shortly after our arrival on Robben Island you told us: “We are no longer leaders; we don’t make policy, we don’t give instructions to comrades outside of prison. Our leaders are Chief Luthuli, and our exiled leaders – Oliver Tambo, Moses Kotane, JB Marks, Yusuf Dadoo etc. They make policy, they give instructions. We are prisoners and the prison leadership’s task is the welfare of fellow prisoners. The first requirement is to stamp our dignity. We do not tolerate vulgarity or insults by prison warders. We will work as much as we can, and refuse to be driven to fulfil quotas. No matter how hard it is, we should use our time fruitfully. We should continue with our political education. And we should also pursue our studies.”

In your commitment to prioritise the welfare of fellow prisoners, you typically hid the anguish, the anxiety and torments you were experiencing, most especially with regard the irreparable damages inflicted on your closest loved ones. Your deep personal suffering was the cost of your moral commitment and political dedication to justice and equality.

While we caught glimpses of this pain in prison, when you had news of the untimely and unexpected death of your eldest son, and your mother, for example, you shouldered the burden of suffering alone. Not until recently did we for the first time get some insight into what you at times endured. In a letter to Winnie, whose torture and detention you were powerless to prevent, you wrote:

“In June I learnt for the first time you had been confined to bed for two months … is your silence due to worsening of your health?”

And in another letter to her you wrote:

“The crop of miseries we have harvested from the heart-breaking frustrations of the last 15 months are not likely to fade away easily from the mind. I felt as if I have been soaked in gall, every part of me, my flesh, bloodstream, bone and soul, so bitter I am to be completely powerless to help you in the rough and fierce ordeal you are going through.”

In spite of such suffering and humiliation you never showed any signs of lessening your concern for the welfare of your fellow prisoners: your empathy and compassion were a wellspring to all, This calibre of leadership defined what you and your colleagues brought to negotiations with apartheid leaders, which were entered into with the forward-looking spirit of forgiveness, reconciliation and nation-building. Once more, you placed the greater good above all else.

You never deviated from the principles that we were expected to uphold in the period of adversity. It is that which enabled us to weather the most trying times in prison, and emerge unshaken. The prisoners upheld your example of refusing to ask for preferential treatment, except for health reasons.

In 1977, 13 years after our imprisonment, you were offered release provided you live in the Transkei. Your reply was: “The whole of South Africa belongs to black and white, and I will not be prepared to be confined to a tiny Bantustan.”

You could have easily asked for exemption from pick and shovel work. You did not. You carried out all the prison chores like the rest of us. You took part in all the hunger strikes. When treatment for a severe back problem left me strapped down on the bed for close to 10 days, you spent many hours daily at my bedside to comfort me.

When almost all of us went down during a flu epidemic, you helped to carry out our toilet buckets, wash them and put them in the sun.

In 1982, after 18 years on Robben Island, five of the seven Rivonia Trialists were transferred to Pollsmoor Prison. For the first time we were together in one large cell.

In 1985, after you returned from hospital you were moved to a single cell, and not allowed to have any contact with us. You have often said what you missed the most about prison life is the time to be alone and think. Therefore you appeared to welcome this isolation. Undoubtedly it was this opportunity to think that led you to take the bold step to talk to the enemy. This was consistent with ANC policy to mobilise the combined pressures of the main pillars of the struggle, namely:

• The mass struggle in the country (as evidenced by the activities of the UDF and Cosatu)
• The ANC’s underground activities in the country
• The increasing international pressure to isolate apartheid South Africa in order to force the enemy to the negotiating table

It was seemingly even bolder to start talking to the other side without even attempting to consult your closest comrade Walter Sisulu who was just a floor above you!

However, it now transpires that you did not want to talk to Walter or anyone else. You, being a super democrat, feared that if three of the five of us opposed any talks with the enemy you would have felt obliged to obey the majority.

When you did start talking to the other side, you made it perfectly clear that as a prisoner you did not have the mandate to negotiate. You were merely attempting to persuade the Government to negotiate with the ANC leadership in exile. But in order to facilitate talks, the Government would have to agree to three conditions, namely:

• The release of all political prisoners
• The unbanning of all political organisations
• Allowing the exiles to return

After several years of talk, the government released the remaining Rivonia men on the 15th of October 1989. By the early 1990s all political prisoners had been released.

On the 2nd of February 1990, President de Klerk announced that you and all other political prisoners would be released; that all political organisations were unbanned and that exiles would be allowed to return.
Fast-forward to April 1994, when all the people of South Africa – black and white – voted together for a new, democratic, non-racial and non-sexist South Africa.

I’m fully aware of your repeated reminders that you are part of a collective. And more importantly the issue that deeply worried you in prison was:

“The false image that I unwittingly projected to the outside world; of being regarded as a saint.”
You also said:
“I wanted to be like an ordinary human being with virtues and vices.”

Having noted your sincerity and honesty, it is however impossible to alter the historically and universally acclaimed position that makes you the symbol of non-racialism, of reconciliation, of forgiveness and the undisputed founding father of the new South Africa.

While we may be drowned in sorrow and grief, we must be proud and grateful that after the long walk paved with obstacles and suffering, we salute you as a fighter for freedom to the end.

Farewell my elder brother, my mentor, my leader. With all the energy and determination at our command, we pledge to join the people of South Africa and the world to perpetuate the ideals and values for which you have devoted your life.



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