Cape Town - Mourners flocked to Cape Town's Grand Parade on Friday to pay tribute to former president Nelson Mandela and pray in the place where he made his first speech after he was freed from prison.
“It was on February 11, 1990, that Madiba stood in this place and addressed us all for the first time as a free man,” Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille told a crowd of thousands packed into the windy square.
“I remember the excitement and energy as tens of thousands of people tried to make their way to the Grand Parade.”
De Lille quoted from Mandela's speech, which was watched all over the world, and which she termed the “birth of a new age”.
“On the day, Madiba said perhaps it was history that ordained that it be here, at the Cape of Good Hope, that we should lay the foundation stone of our new nation... .
“For it was here, at this Cape, over three centuries ago, that there began the fateful convergence of the peoples of Africa, Europe and Asia on these shores,” she said.
Democratic Alliance leader Helen Zille was in the crowd of Capetonians from all walks of life. Many mourners waved South African flags. Others placed bunches of flowers along the security barrier in front of the city hall.
After De Lille spoke, Christian, Jewish and Muslim religious leaders said prayers for Mandela, who died at the age of 95, on Thursday night.
The inter-faith prayer service was organised by the City of Cape Town.