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City pauses to honour Madiba​

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Millions of people around the globe will on Saturday July 18 – International Nelson Mandela Day – put whatever they will be doing on hold and devote 67 minutes of their time to humanitarian causes in honour of the work, struggle and sacrifices of South Africa’s greatest statesman, who died on December 5 2013 at the age of 95.

The City of Johannesburg, led by Executive Mayor Councillor Parks Tau, has lined up several events and activities to benefit the city’s less privileged in tribute to South Africa’s first democratically elected president, who would have turned 97 on Saturday.

Every year since November 2009 after the United Nations declared July 18 – Madiba’s birthday – as International Nelson Mandela Day, people all over the world have utilised 67 minutes of their time to honour Tata, who had devoted 67 years of his life to the service of humanity as a human rights lawyer, prisoner of conscience and international peacemaker.

This year the City of Johannesburg’s Mandela Day programme starts at Thokoza Park in Rockville, Soweto, on Wednesday July 15 and reaches its climax on Saturday when its departments, regions and municipal entities will host the majority of its activities to mark the occasion.

Members of the Mayoral Committee, top city officials and representatives of partner organisations have been selected to lead several activities – from environmental cleanup drives, children’s games and storytelling to maintenance work at an old age home and a cleaning blitz along a busy road.

Executive Mayor Tau, MMCs and top City officials will on Wednesday be at Thokoza Park, where Johannesburg City Parks & Zoo will host activities to promote the City’s green culture. Johannesburg City Parks & Zoo’s Noeleen Mattera said children from a local crèche would gather around the tree that Madiba planted in 2008. They will later release white balloons, light candles and celebrate his rich legacy.

On Friday, the Johannesburg Social Housing Company (JOSHCO), its employees, contractors and representatives of other municipal-owned entities (MOEs) such as City Power and Joburg Water will be at an RDP housing development near Jabulani Hostel in Soweto to conduct a workshop on the importance of home maintenance. Most of the 377 houses are falling apart because of the lack of proper maintenance.

“The RDP houses are not in a good state,” said JOSHCO’s Msizi Ngcobo. We asked community leaders to consult residents and identify the problems ahead of Mandela Day so they could be addressed. We will fix leaks, unblock drains and do some painting.”

Mayor Tau will be at the forefront again when he spearheads a cleanup campaign along Vincent Tshabalala Road, formerly London Road, and Juksei River in Alexandra on Friday and Saturday. This will be carried out in partnership with the Greater Alexandra Chamber of Commerce, Johannesburg City Parks & Zoo, City Power and other MOEs. They will also tackle illegal dumping and littering, remove weeds, cut the grass, plant trees and create landscape features along the road.

The Sizanane Day Care Centre in Braamfischerville, Soweto, will be the nerve centre of Region C’s Mandela Day activities, to be held under the theme: “67 Minutes of Love.”

These will include maintenance work and the painting of classrooms and ablution facilities. Illegally dumped rubble will also be removed. There will also be a kiddies’ corner to keep the young ones busy.
On Friday in Region G, three senior citizens will be handed the keys to their new homes in Stretford Extension 3, Driziek Extension 5 and Thulamntwana.

On Saturday in Region D, senior citizens at the Ekujabuleni Kwabadala in Orlando East, Soweto, will be treated to festivities by city officials and other stakeholders. The Environmental Health Department will mark the day by hunting down notorious rats at the abandoned Orlando Sheltered Workshop. Trees will also be planted, the garden spruced up the centre’s fence repainted.

The City’s Citizen Relations and Urban Management (CRUM) staff will mend and paint the fence, deliver two beds and heaters, and provide a television set for the sick room. Johannesburg City Parks & Zoo has organised a trip to the Johannesburg Zoo for 60 senior citizens, according to Nomvula Dlame.

Region F’s activities, to be held at the Drill Hall, start on Thursday and will include street cleanup campaigns, health checks and counselling, children’s games, storytelling and reading, according to CRUM Liaison Officer Zaabe Magwaza.