Hector Pieterson statue presented to Mandela

A statuette depicting the famous photograph of the fatally wounded Hector Pieterson cradled in a friend's arms was presented to former president Nelson Mandela on Tuesday.

The statuette is a small replica of a life-sized bronze statue to be donated to the people of Soweto later this year, said Sweden's Thanda Foundation.

The 1.88-metre-high, 300kg statue would be a "gift of friendship" from the people of Sweden and South Africa to honour and commemorate the freedom struggle, said Swedish IT entrepreneur Dan Olofsson.

Olofsson and his wife Christin founded the Thanda Foundation which is co-sponsoring the statue with South African entrepreneur Matthews Phosa.

"Hector Pieterson and his generation will forever remain an inspiration and source of national pride for all South Africans," said Phosa.

The iconic photograph was taken by Sam Nzima on June 16, 1976, during the Soweto uprising against the imposition of Afrikaans as a medium of instruction in township schools.

It shows Mbuyisa Makhubo running for help with the 13-year-old Pieterson in his arms and Pieterson's sister Antoinette at his side. Pieterson was declared dead at a nearby clinic.

The statue was sculpted from the photograph, using computer graphics, by South African artists Kobus Hattingh and Jacob Maponyane - also responsible for the statue of former president Nelson Mandela in Sandton.

"June 16, 1976, was a critical turning point in South Africa's history and it focused the international community's heart and mind on the plight of the struggle," said Olofsson.

It is now commemorated as Youth Day. - Sapa


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