SA mourns Madiba's passing

At 10am, the country has been asked to observe three minutes of silence.

FILE: Former president Nelson Mandela. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - As the country marks the one year anniversary of late former president, Nelson Mandela's death, many are taking the opportunity to reflect back on the life and times of the country's most beloved statesman.

Mandela was elected SA's first black president after spending nearly three decades in prison.

He had been receiving treatment for a lung infection since September 2013.

Madiba passed away on this day exactly a year ago.

At 10am the country has been asked to observe three minutes of silence.

Government has also urged places of worship and schools among others, to ring their bells or sound off their sirens to call the country to attention.


The sunrise over Pretoria welcomed crisp blue skies that accentuate Mandela's outstretched arms at the 5-metre tall statue in the shadow of the Union Buildings.

Madiba's widow Graca Machel and his old friend and struggle veteran, Ahmed Kathrada, will lead a wreath-laying ceremony.

Both of them are expected to deliver tributes.

Ceremonial proceedings started at 5am with an interfaith prayer at Freedom Park.

Proceedings at Freedom Park will culminate in an address delivered by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa

Machel says the day brings heaviness to her heart.

She spoke publicly for the first time about the anniversary of former president's passing at the launch of the Nelson Mandela Freedom Walk in Houghton.

Machel was married to Madiba in 1998 and spent his last hours by his bedside as he died peacefully in his Houghton home last year.

Machel says she's still coming to terms with the global icon's death.

"It's still too early to live with the reality that Madiba is no more."

She says while the family works through the tough time, public support is always welcomed.

"Anything we do to develop his values is to keep him alive, not his legacy, but to keep him alive."

Madiba's widow says while the world celebrates his legacy today, ordinary people are just as capable as Mandela of making a lasting impact on society.

Video: Machel still coming to terms with Madiba's death.


African National Congress (ANC) Secretary General Gwede Mantashe says Madiba would be proud of the ruling party of today.

Mantashe says he has no doubts about how Mandela would view today's ANC.

"He would be proud of what we achieved over the last 20 years and he would be proud of what we're doing now to take the country forward."

But United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa says he's not convinced about Mantashe's claim.

"I hope the voters of this country will wake up and demand that we can't be led by questionable characters."

The ANC secretary general also says it's impossible to steal the legacy of Mandela from the ruling party.


Human rights lawyer and Mandela's close friend, George Bizos, says Madiba's dream of a rainbow nation remains alive.

Bizos is marking the first anniversary of Madiba's death by attending several events in Pretoria today.

The lawyer says he has tried to remain stoic, but marking the anniversary of his friend's death fills him with sadness.

"There are people who think Madiba's legacy isn't followed and that is partly true but it's up to the rest of us to make sure we follow what was dear to his heart."

In a week that saw officers kill two people looting an overturned truck in the Eastern Cape, Bizos says he is concerned about the relationship between the police and the public.

"If hungry people rush to over food turned truck there should be better ways of dealing with them than shooting them to death."

But he says, generally, South Africans continue to have a strong voice and a judiciary that protects their rights.


Mandela's former personal assistant, Zelda La Grange, says in the year since his death she has grown increasingly concerned at the levels of racism and intolerance in society.

La Grange says today is an opportunity to look deep inside and reflect on whether South Africans are living his legacy.

She says the day brings with it a flood of mixed feelings and memories.

Madiba's former personal assistant says despite debates over the health of the rainbow nation, the answer lies inside each one of its residents.

"It's concerning how hostile people have become towards one another."

La Grange adds change can't be left up to the politicians.

"Mandela always said it's easier to change others than to change yourself."

When the news first broke a year ago, the nation mourned and celebrated the man who will always be remembered as a pillar of strength for all South Africans.

Video: Messages for Tata.