CROWDS continued to pour into the Nelson Mandela Capture Site at Howick in the Midlands yesterday, with locals, domestic and foreign tourists celebrating the life of the man from Mvezo who became a world icon.
Making their way to the site yesterday were a married couple from Bloemfontein, Moraole and Dikeledi Menong.
Dikeledi said the news of Mandela’s death coincided with their visit to the Midlands so they decided to visit the site where Mandela was arrested.
“It is indeed sad to lose an icon like Mandela, he did a lot for both black and white people in this country,” she said. “Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another … ,” from his inauguration speech, was the quote she will best remember Mandela by.
Another visitor, Ben Jones who was walking with his dog, Yamba, named after the city in Saudi Arabia where he was born, said they had come to pay their respects to Mandela because of what he had done for this country. “This is sad and depressing because now more than ever, we need more Mandelas in this world. At the moment nobody can compare to Mandela in this world,” said Jones.
“If there is a heaven Mandela definitely deserves a first-class ticket there.”
Born frees Laura Church and her boyfriend Kyle Harrison were among the holiday makers at the site.
Church said she thought Mandela’s death has united the country even more.
Church, born in 1994 when Mandela became president, said, “We feel like a big part of our lives is gone with him”.
Her boyfriend, Harrison, who lives in Johannesburg, said he was fortunate to attended the same school as one of Mandela’s grandsons, Michaelhouse.
“I remember visiting him during the 2007 Rugby World Cup in Houghton and he was exactly as I had seen him on television,” he said.
Harrison said there were a lot of children there and, “Mandela treated every child as if they were the only ones there”.
Geoff Harrison was happy to finally be at the capture site after struggling with directions. “Because most people are coming from the N3, there needs to be better signage giving directions to the site,” he said.
Isobel McGregor (80) from Merrivale said they were not mourning, but rather their time at the capture site was “a joyous celebration of his highly admirable work”.
Robert Gass (68) from Australia said, “I’m very impressed with the example that Mandela has made. He set a standard in leadership that is certainly high for other African leaders to try to match.”
Gass, who grew up in Zimbabwe, said he hoped that leaders there are taking note.
Nellah, Mxolisi and their granddaughter Ledile Bambo from Polokwane also visited the site.
“This guy has done miracles for us,” said Nellah. She said Mandela left the country a baton for all to run with and never let go.
The condolence books at the site are getting more messages and Mandela memorabilia is selling like hot cakes in the shops there.