Johannesburg - It was relief that former president Nelson Mandela's suffering had come to an end, and his legacy would live on forever, Congress of the People leader Mosiuoa Lekota said on Saturday.
“My deepest condolences to Mr Mandela’s family, friends and colleagues. Today my heart aches: my friend, comrade and mentor has passed on and I will miss him forever,” Lekota said in a statement.
“I watched this (Saturday) morning as tributes to Madiba poured in from all over the world; tributes that were heartfelt and meaningful, but also tributes that were clearly prepared in advance of a day we all knew was coming.”
Lekota said he had prepared nothing, because each time he tried to write something in advance of the death of his friend, his heart would not allow him to continue.
“But now I have no choice. His physical presence has indeed left us, but his legacy and indomitable spirit live on forever in my heart, the hearts of a nation and, indeed, the hearts of a world,” he said.
“When I arrived on Robben Island, Comrade Nelson took the time to write me a personal note welcoming me and introducing me to our policies and beliefs.”
Lekota would always be inspired by Mandela's kindness and the care shown by him in welcoming Lekota, “a young firebrand” at the time, to the ranks of the island's prisoners.
“He was kind enough to write in his autobiography, 'Long Walk to Freedom', that he had heard of my bravery, but it is his bravery that I will always remember and salute, and I will continue to uphold his ideals,” he said.
“I walked a long road with comrade Mandela. As he leaves on this final journey, I will continue to carry in my heart his wishes for freedom, unity and prosperity for all South Africans.”
Mandela died at the age of 95 at his home in Houghton, Johannesburg, on Thursday night and will be buried in his hometown, Qunu, next Sunday. - Sapa