Joburg's parks host residents as they bid Madiba farewell

THE CITY OF JOHANNESBURG and the Joburg Development Agency have equipped a number of parks across the city to screen the memorial and tribute services being held to mourn the passing of its most famous citizen, Nelson Mandela.

hlobo Gamede smallHlobo Gamede, manager at the regional directors office Region A; Pierre Nel citizen relations manager Region A, and Pastor Setumo Dloti in the shirtThe City of Johannesburg has made its parks available to host the memorial tributes to former South African president, Nelson Mandela.

The former South African president passed away peacefully on 5 December. His death is being mourned across the globe and South Africa has declared a ten-day mourning period.

Mourning sites in the city live-screening the official memorial service and funeral include Extreme Park in Diepsloot Extension 8, a deeply impoverished and densely populated community. The community has had its fair share troubles, including shack fires and xenophobic tension, in past years; but it is slowly coming to terms with its rich cultural diversity.

The community, consisting of mostly foreign nationals and some South Africans, all have united in mourning the great leader.

Dimakatso Mokoena, a 67-year-old woman from the area, said: “I have been touched by Mandela in my life as a person who brought us to the Promised Land. In 2011 there were shack fires and I lost many of my belongings but today the one thing I miss most is my collection of Madiba t-shirts and ANC regalia. I’m very saddened but I know he has done his job and it’s now up to us.”

Mokoena said she was touched by the gesture the City has made for everyone to see their late president being honoured.

Kembo Pamberi, a resident of Zimbabwean descent, said: “The death of Madiba has affected us a lot as we all knew that he was the bind for the nation but I believe with his passing South Africans will more than ever want to stand for his ideals and stop the hating of their fellow African brothers.”

Tributes across the city

Dimakatso Mokoena smallDimakatso Mokoena, a 67-year-old lady from the area, who lost most of her belongings in a shack fire in 2011On 9 December 2013, a local pastor held a prayer in honour of Mandela with help from city officials in Region A Midrand.

Pierre Nel, Region A citizen relations manager in Midrand, said: “We have two broadcast parks in Region A Midrand; there is one in Ivory Park in Tembisa and the other is here in Diepsloot and they were originally established for the 2010 World Cup as viewing sites.

“The City decided to have mourning services in all the viewing parks in the city and we are having them today, Wednesday and Thursday.”

The pastor held a prayer service and sermon for the nearly 150 people at the park; the crowd was mostly children on school holidays.

The children sang a popular song dedicated to the late former president; “Mandela, ha ona o tshwanang lewena”, or “Mandela, there is no other like you”.

Councillors, the South African Police Services and Johannesburg Metro Police will be on hand on Wednesday and Thursday to ensure all goes well. The funeral will also be screened at the park.

Johannesburg Mayor Parks Tau said: “Although he belonged to South Africans – and indeed to all freedom-loving people worldwide – Johannesburg held a special place in his heart. It was in Johannesburg where Tata Mandela started his legal training and spent most of his time.”

Pastor Setumo Dloti, from God's Will Faith Ministries, read from the book of John 14: 1, in the Bible, which says: “Let not your hearts be troubled; believe in God, believe also in me.”

Kembo Pamberi smallKembo Pamberi, another resident but of Zimbabwean descent He said he chose the scripture to calm the people of Diepsloot so that they would know that Tata’s passing did not mean they would be neglected and become second-class citizens.

The City is holding a range of programmes to honour, mourn and celebrate Madiba up to and including Thursday 12 December.

The parks screening the memorial and Tata's funeral are:

  • Ivory Park – Region A
  • Diepsloot Park – Region B
  • Diepkloof Extreme Makeover Park – Region D
  • Orlando West Park – Region D
  • Thokoza Park – Region D
  • Innesfree Farm – Region E
  • Joubert Park – Region F
  • Rose Park - Region D
  • Orange Farm Regional Park – Region G
  • Krematart Park, Eldorado Park – Region D
  • Tanzania Park, Cosmo City – Region C