February 11 marks the 30th anniversary of the release of former president Nelson Mandela who was jailed for 27 years following his arrest in 1962. South Africa will mark the anniversary with a string of events commemorating the historic moment when Mandela walked out of Victor Verster prison in the Western Cape.
The Nelson Mandela Foundation will host three events in the province that will highlight the “new prisons of Africa”. On its website, the foundation said the “prisons” ranged from physical prisons that were the site of high levels of incarceration and the failures of restorative justice to the effective prisons that defined people’s lives.
From 08:00 to 10:00, the foundation is expected to host a reunion of the original members who were in the reception committee that facilitated Madiba’s homecoming from Victor Verster, now called Drakenstein Correctional Services. President Cyril Ramaphosa is also expected give an address from Cape Town City Hall’s balcony, where Mandela gave his first speech after his release from prison, between 14:30 and 16:30.
In his Monday morning newsletter, Ramaphosa commemorated the release of the former president and ANC leader. He said while the country’s democracy was “well-entrenched” with robust and durable institutions and the lives of people had improved over the past 25 years since the first democratic elections, more needed to be done.
“Yet, there is so much further we need to travel. Inequality, especially as defined by race and gender, remains among the highest in the world. “Unemployment is deepening and poverty is widespread. Violence, including the violence that men perpetrate against women, continues to ravage our communities. In confronting these challenges, it is vital that we remain united,” Ramaphosa said.
Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu and his wife Leah, who will be commemorating the anniversary on Tuesday, also paid tribute to Madiba, saying while circumstances and priorities changed over time, good values were timeless. “Thirty years ago, Nelson Mandela emerged from prison to dazzle South Africa and the world with his warmth and human values… We miss him,” the Tutus said.
Also commemorating the historic release will be the head of the Mvezo Traditional Council and Mandela’s grandson, Nkosi Zwelivelile Mandela, who called on South Africans to remember the leader as well as the vision his grandfather had had for the nation.
“We can make South Africa great again. We can fight the scourge of poverty and corruption. We can overcome all obstacles and achieve the vision of a united, free, non-racial, non-sexist and just South Africa in which all can enjoy prosperity and a better life for all,” he said.
Darling Street and surrounds will have traffic restrictions in place until 10pm on Tuesday, February 11 2020. Darling Street will be closed to traffic between Lower Plein and Buitenkant streets until the conclusion of Tuesday’s events. No parking will be permitted in Corporation and Parade streets. “The city appeals to motorists to seek alternative routes where possible as the restrictions/closures will likely result in some traffic congestion. Staff will be on duty in the area to redirect traffic,” Cape Town traffic service spokesperson Maxine Bezuidenhout said.
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