Parly’s new home: Notable events that took place at the City Hall

The State of the Nation Address will take place there on Thursday, a day before the historic moment 32 years ago when Madiba made his first public speech from the balcony.

President Cyril Ramaphosa speaking on Cape Town's City Hall balcony at the 30th-anniversary parade of the release of former president Nelson Mandela who was jailed for 27 years. Picture: Kayleen Morgan/EWN

CAPE TOWN - From the likes of former President Nelson Mandela to Hollywood celebrity Kimora Lee Simmons and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the Cape Town City Hall has played host to a number of high-profile people and events.

The State of the Nation Address (Sona) will take place there on Thursday, a day before the historic moment 32 years ago when Madiba made his first public speech from the balcony.

Last month’s devastating fire at Parliament means that Sona and the debates following the address will now add to the list of major events taking place at the City Hall.

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Situated in the heart of Cape Town, the City Hall was built in 1905 and was the seat of the city’s council until it moved to its current location.

Here are some notable events that took place there:

  • On 11 February 1990, only hours after his release from prison, Mandela made his first public speech from the balcony of Cape Town City Hall.

  • The world also paid tribute to the late statesman there in 2010, unveiling a canvas carrying handprints and signatures of 67 celebrities like Prince Albert of Monaco and Simmons.

  • The likes of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, former Fifa President Sepp Blatter and now disgraced and convicted R&B star, R Kelly, have also stood there.

  • The hall has also hosted performances by Cuban pianist Roberto Fonseca and the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra.

The National Assembly podium and chamber will now be replaced by a pipe organ consisting of over 3,000 pipes as well as stained glass windows, a key feature at the City Hall.

While almost a quarter of a million people gathered in front of the City Hall when Madiba made his famous first speech, not too many are expected on Thursday due to road closures and security measures.