Mixed emotions on Mandela Day amid looting, death and destruction
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Johannesburg - South African citizens were feeling mixed emotions about celebrating Mandela Day amid the trying times the country faces.
Unemployment, poverty and gender-based violence were just some of challenges in the country. Added to this is the deadly coronavirus which has claimed the lives of many people globally. Now South Africa is forced to rebuild the ruins caused by the looting and riots in the KZN and Gauteng.
On Mandela Day, Good Samaritans gathered across the country to donate to those who are in need as part of the 67 minutes’ activity that citizens fulfil every year to honour former president Nelson Mandela.
Mpho Masechaba and her mother volunteered their time to cook for people living in the Strydom Park informal settlement.
“We have three ladies who assist us in preparing meals for families. They have been with us from the beginning. They are volunteering. This kitchen would not be where it is today if it wasn’t for them,” she said.
Many citizens said that the freedom Mandela fought for in the country was in vain because of the regulated corruption, inequality, injustice and nepotism.
The executive director of Amnesty International SA, Shenilla Mohamed, said: “Human rights are the cornerstone of the Constitution. The government must respect, protect, promote and fulfil these rights. Authorities must respect, protect, promote and fulfil these rights and honour the legacy of Mandela by ensuring that everything he fought and stood for does not go up in smoke.”
The civil unrest has claimed more than 200 lives, undermined the rule of law, and has affected several human rights, including the rights to life, health, food, and freedom of movement.
Mohamed highlighted that Mandela and other political leaders fought the oppressive apartheid system to ensure that all who lived in South Africa enjoyed these human rights and that all people were equal before the law.
“It is important that the situation is brought under control and the process of rebuilding and healing begins to take place. The government needs to ensure that everyone is safe, that their human rights are protected, and the rule of law is effectively upheld.”
Spokesperson for the Nelson Mandela Foundation Kneo Mokgopa said the consequences for individuals, communities and the country were dire.
“The future will be a scary place if we don't all step up. In the long term, addressing deep-rooted sources of rage and despair will be critical. In the short term, restoring the rule of law has to be a priority. And in the weeks and months ahead we can prepare ourselves for supplies as a result of the destruction of infrastructure and supply chains. Relief work will make the difference between surviving or not,” he said.
Mokgopa highlighted that every day should be a Mandela Day.