President Cyril Ramaphosa pictured during a candle lighting ceremony ahead of tonight’s SONA Picture: Elmond Jiyane/GCIS
President Cyril Ramaphosa pictured during a candle lighting ceremony ahead of tonight’s SONA Picture: Elmond Jiyane/GCIS

Pre-SONA candle lighting ceremony honours SA’s Covid-19 dead

By Se-Anne Rall Time of article published Feb 11, 2021

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Just moments before he took to the podium to deliver the 2021 State of the Nation Address (SONA), President Cyril Ramaphosa took part in a candle lighting ceremony and a moment of silence to remember the more than 47 000 people in South Africa, who have lost their battle with Covid-19.

As per the latest statistics from the Health Ministry, nearly 1.5 million people have tested positive for coronavirus in SA.

Due to Covid restrictions, this year’s opening of Parliament is dramatically different from the pomp and ceremony South Africa has grown accustomed to.

There were no pre-SONA cocktail parties, no red carpet and there will be no hijinks in the chamber ahead of Ramaphosa's speech.

One of three candles lit ahead of tonight’s SONA. Picture: Elmond Jiyane/GCIS

The president will be one of only 50 people in the National Assembly Chamber when he delivers the address.

Also present in the NA Chamber will be Deputy President David Mabuza. Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, and Justice of the Supreme Court of Appeal, Justice Dumisani H Zondi, will represent the judiciary in the chamber while the dean of the resident diplomatic corps, ambassador Bene L M’Poko, will represent the ambassadors. All other MPs will connect through a virtual platform.

Part of the solemn pre-speech ceremony will be the rendition of a poem by talented poet, singer and film producer, Siphokazi Jonas, from the Eastern Cape.

She has featured at numerous poetry sessions and festivals around the country and has performed with renowned musicians, including Sipho “Hotstix” Mabuse, Freshlyground, Pops Mohamed, Dizu Plaatjies and Dave Reynolds. Her poem will be in a recorded form.

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