Nelson Mandela, flanked by Walter Sisulu, his former wife, Winnie, and Cyril Ramaphosa, reads his famous speech on the steps of the City Hall after his release from Victor Verster Prison. Picture: Leon Muller
Cape Town – A Nelson Mandela statue at the City Hall, where Madiba delivered his first speech after being released from prison in February 1990, is one step closer to becoming a reality.

The City of Cape Town, in partnership with the Western Cape government, has on Tuesday started a month-long public participation period for the proposed R3.5 million statue and exhibition.

A call for artist’s proposals was expected to be issued after the public consultation process ended on May 21, said the chairperson of the city’s Naming and Nomination committee, Brett Herron.

He said the city would contribute an additional R1.3m for the operational costs, including ongoing maintenance of the exhibition and statue.

“It is opposite this balcony where approximately 50 000 South Africans gathered on the Grand Parade,” Herron said.

It is furthermore proposed that the city fund a permanent exhibition at the city hall, consisting of interpretive panels, audio-visual equipment and interactive displays to commemorate Madiba’s legacy and to honour the organisations and people who were involved in the liberation Struggle, the events leading up to Mandela’s release, and the transition to democracy.

MEC for Economic Opportunities Alan Winde said the project, which would include the development of a Madiba legacy route, was expected to create up to 100 000 jobs in the tourism sector.

“Through leveraging this unique heritage, we can build an attraction which will draw visitors to our region and spread Madiba’s message of tolerance."

“We know this message remains especially relevant both here at home and abroad. It is important that residents of the province have a say in how we honour Madiba and I would like to encourage everyone to share their views during the public participation process,” Winde said.

Herron added: “The City Hall falls within the National Liberation Heritage Route, but little has been done to date to highlight the prominence of this landmark and the significant events that took place at the City Hall in 1990."

“The purpose of the proposed permanent exhibition is to turn the City Hall into a popular tourist attraction where visitors can visualise the events and have a full experience of our journey to democracy."

“Numerous people and organisations had a hand in one of our nation’s most historic moments and we want to honour them as well.”

Comments, input and recommendations may be submitted via e-mail at [email protected] or the city’s website at as from Tuesday.

Cape Argus