Obama concludes Gauteng visit

U.S. President Barack Obama is now making his way to Cape Town, where he will visit Robben Island.

U.S. President Barack Obama waves at the Waterkloof Air Force base on 30 June 2013. Picture: Christa Van der Walt/EWN

PRETORIA - U.S. President Barack Obama has left Gauteng without meeting Nelson Mandela because of his ill health.

Air Force One took off from the Waterkloof Air Force base a short while ago and is on its way to Cape Town, where Obama is expected to announce a R70 billion initiative to improve access to power in sub-Saharan Africa.

Obama has used every opportunity during his trip so far to talk about Mandela, a man he calls his political hero and inspiration for his first political activism.

On Saturday, he called Mandela's wife Gra├ža Machel, who has been by his side at the hospital. He also met with Madiba's relatives.

Shortly after, he attended an event in Soweto for young South Africans and spoke again about the statesman.

"President Mandela once said that during all those years in that cell, it was his home here in Soweto, that small red brick house was what he called the centre point of my world. Obviously, that's what is on our minds today. We join the people of the world in sending our prayers to Madiba and his family because he still inspires us all."


As the 94-year-old remains in a critical condition, there has been more activity at the Pretoria Mediclinic Heart Hospital where he is being treated for a 23rd day.

While there has been no sign of the Mandela family this morning, dozens of people are already starting to fill up the small street outside the main gate.

The past week has seen an increase in the number of church groups coming to the facility to hold prayer services and the wall of support is now covered with hundreds of cards, posters and flowers.

On Saturday, the global icon was visited by his daughters and parliamentary officials, but it is unclear if more parliamentary officials will see him today.