Mpumalanga business close for Mandela

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A bronze statue depicting former South African president Nelson Mandela as he walked to freedom in 1990 following his release after 27 years of incarceration.

Johannesburg - Rural businesses in Mpumalanga joined major retailers and closed their shops for two days on Sunday and Monday, out of respect for former president Nelson Mandela.

Tariq Mahmood, 42, from Pakistan, who has run a shop in Mahushu, near Hazyview, for the past four years, said he was privileged to see Mandela in 1993 in Pakistan before he became president, a Sapa correspondent reported.

“Everyone wanted to see him in our country and I wanted to be the first to touch him. That made me feel no fear to come to South Africa to do business and because he was having a natural leadership,” Mahmood said.

“My business, it is closed for two days, December 15 and 16, to honour his legacy. Madiba unite[d] everyone... not Africa only, but the whole world.

“Two days is nothing when he served 27 years in prison to set us free. Rest in peace, Tata.”

He said the world would never be the same and that everyone had to keep Mandela's legacy alive.

Khanyisile Lekhuleni, 26, from Mphatseni, said she wanted to buy something for breakfast on Sunday when she found the shops were closed.

“I came here to buy breakfast ingredients as usual and I was surprised to see the small businesses are closed. I tried to check shop by shop, but nothing. But I'm glad,” she said.

“I'm also glad that foreign businessmen are respecting him and they do not care about losing money.”

Mqoshwa Gumede, 73, said Mandela deserved to be respected and honoured.

“Madiba deserved loyalty and respect because he had done so much for us. He went through bad times, but he did forgive everyone and taught us too.

“The long walk to freedom was not as easy as words, but he was ready to live or die for us to be free,” said Gumede.

Mandela died at his home in Houghton, Johannesburg, last Thursday, aged 95.

He was buried in his childhood village of Qunu, in the Eastern Cape, on Sunday. - Sapa

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