Pretoria - Officials, politicians and citizens from all walks of life came together on Sunday to remember Nelson Mandela at the fifth Mandela Remembrance Walk and Run.
The event, which started and ended at Union Buildings, saw a celebration of the legacy and contribution of the global icon.
Among those present at the walk were Sport and Recreation Minister Tokozile Xasa, Gauteng Premier David Makhura, Tshwane Mayor Solly Msimanga and Gauteng MEC for Sport, Arts, Culture and Recreation Faith Mazibuko.
Sports stars including Stephen Mokoka, former Comrades Marathon winners Ludwick Mamabolo and Charne Bosman, US Open wheelchair tennis semi-finalist Kgothatso Montjane, as well as football legends such as Shaun Bartlett, Kalusha Bwalya and Jabulani Mendu also took part in the commemorative walk.
Speaking of the walk and remembering Mandela, Makhura said, "We made a commitment that we will grow this event and this year we saw 30 000 people participating.
"Every year we have decided that the last big event of significant proportion in the Gauteng province before Christmas will be for us to come together to remember the last walk of Nelson Mandela’s life, when he was lying in State at the Union Buildings before being given his final farewell.
“As we walk through the streets of Tshwane we are recommitting to live together as equals, in dignity, and to strive to eradicate poverty. By participating in this event we are also committing to building a non-racial, non sexist country, and we want Nelson Mandela to know where he is right now in heaven that we are committed to building a country that is consistent with the vision that he had for us, and we will continue to do so with this event every year."
Adding to this was Nelson Mandela Foundation board member Tokyo Sexwale who expressed delight at the crowd attendance.
“The statue says it all. He can never die Nelson Mandela. We have a living icon in all of us and those who don’t know that, will never know just what strength South Africa has. Look at the multitudes, people have turned out in great numbers today. As the Nelson Mandela Foundation, we are very happy,” said Sexwale.
Minister Xasa meanwhile, said of the walk, "It’s an exciting day for all South Africans, an event bringing together Africans of all walks of life young and old. it was symbolic of the way Nelson Mandela lived his life, uniting people of all kinds. This event gives us a moment where we all can emulate that giant, that icon. The venue too is amazing, tracing all his steps, from the hardships he endured, to the place where our democracy was sealed when he was sworn in as President,” said Xasa.
Msimanga hailed the day as a fantastic tribute to the “greatest statesman that has ever lived”.
“This event brought together people of all persuasions. It was electric, people came in their numbers, young and old, to say we are about one South Africa. This is what Nelson Mandela is now looking down from heaven and saying he wanted to build in South Africa. People came together today not only to remember him, but to say they want to live his legacy,” said Msimanga.
The Mandela Remembrance Walk and Run was hosted by the NMF, together with the Gauteng Province, and this year's event saw the popular introduction of a 21 kilometre run, in addition to the usual 10 kilometre run and five kilometre walk.
The 10km and 21km events began and ended at the Union Buildings and the 5km walk began at the Kgosi Mampuru Prison and ended at the Union Buildings.
Winners included Philani Buthelezi (KPMG) and Mamorallo Tjoka (Nedbank), who came first in the men and women's 21km races respectively and Desmond Mokgobu (Olifantfontein) as well as Putendo Nyahoza (Nedbank), who both came in first in the men and women's 10km races respectively.
All proceeds from the event will go to the Nelson Mandela Foundation.IOL