Samantha Hartshorne

THE JOBURG Tree of Light will dazzle the Johannesburg zoo on Sunday when 8 000 pygmy globes light up a five-storey-high tree in memory of lost loved ones.

The tree was expected to be switched on at 5.30pm when Mildred Makhaya, a board member for Hospice Wits, flicks the switch on the spiralling kilometres of electric cord.

The zoo is opening its doors for free from 5pm so that Joburgers can watch the spectacle at 5.30pm.

The event is in its 23rd year and is a highlight of the zoo calendar, and takes centre stage during the busy holiday period.

South Africans and corporates have already bought more than 8 000 of the 10 000 globes that benefit Hospice Wits, long-standing patrons of the event.

Hospice Wits is an independent association that has provided care for terminal patients for 33 years at in-patient facilities.

It also supplies outsourced nursing.

The Tree of Light proceeds go a long way to providing comfort and medical care to people with terminal illnesses. The final months of terminally ill patients are made easier by the nursing care dispensed at two in-patient care centres in Joburg, said Sydney Landry-Hammond, the events manager for Hospice Wits.

At the 12-bed Houghton care centre, the patients are predominantly cancer patients, while the 16-bed Soweto facility provides mostly for Aids patients.

“But the bulk of our work is out-patient care – we find many of our patients prefer to stay in their own homes during their last days. We have nurses that go north and south to look after the terminally ill,” said Landry-Hammond.

Globes cost R50 for individuals and R350 for corporates, and can be bought at

Free entry from 5pm for visitors to the Tree of Light lawns.