CT pays tribute to Mandela

Ordinary South Africans vow to tell the next generation about the late Nelson Mandela.

Scores of people gather at the Grand Parade in memory of Nelson Mandela. Picture: Siyabonga Sesant/EWN

CAPE TOWN - A Cape Town man who visited the Grand Parade on the day former president Nelson Mandela made his first speech after being released from prison says he will never forget it.

He is one of hundreds of people gathered for a special interfaith service this afternoon to pay tribute to the global icon.

The 95-year-old former statesman passed away at his Houghton home at 9pm on Thursday.

Abdullah Boltman told Eyewitness News he clearly remembers the day Madiba made his iconic speech at this very spot in 1990.

He says visiting the site again today gives him goose bumps.

Boltman says he remembers Madiba saying he will be the first black president of South Africa.

He says the late statesman was a man of the people and gave his life to the country as he spent so many years behind bars.

Meanwhile, scores of people are also gathering at the Drakenstein Prison in Paarl where Mandela was released in 1990.

People are laying wreaths and flowers in front of the stature of the former president.

They are standing in front of a banner which reads "Goodbye Tata Madiba".

Madiba spent two years of his 27-year imprisonment at the Drakenstein Correctional Facility, previously known as Victor Verster Prison, before being released.

The group maintains it is not the mourning of his death but a celebration of his legacy.

They say they will always remember his ability to unify the nation and will pass the knowledge of his existence to the next generation.

At the same time, more than a 550 Places of Tribute will be activated across the Western Cape by Saturday.

At these spots, members of the public will be able to lay wreaths and flowers in honour of Madiba as well as write down messages of condolence in a tribute book.

The Grand Parade in Darling Street has been designated as one of the main public spaces where Capetonians can gather to commemorate the former statesman.

WORLD MOURNS

A South African journalist living in America says expats and Americans are united in their grief.

André-Pierre du Plessis, a journalist at Bloomberg News, has been living in New York for a year and a half.

Du Plessis, who has met Madiba, says it has been an emotional day being so far from home.

"After the news broke, South Africans came together in restaurants, even New Yorkers, to share their stories and to support their friends who are South Africans."

Groups of people will come together outside the South African embassy tonight for a candlelight vigil.

At the same time, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan on Friday conveyed his sadness at the passing of Mandela.

"Nelson Mandela was a great leader; one of the modern heroes of Africa. He did not get into politics for selfish reasons, but did it for his people. We thank God for the life he has spent. We thank God for using him to bring democracy to South Africa."

Jonathan said African leaders can learn from Mandela.

"If only more leaders were as selfless as he was then Africa and the world will be a better place. The life of Nelson Mandela is a big school for us who are leaders of our country and indeed our followers too. Nelson Mandela should not only be mourned, but also celebrated. He was an icon. He led us. By God's grace he led a long life; so we must celebrate."