Panafrican News Agency

South Africa: South Africa commemorates Mandela's 99th birthday

Cape Town, South Africa (PANA) – Nelson Mandela's widow Graca Machel and British billionaire Sir Richard Branson on Tuesday led hundreds of people through the streets of Cape Town to commemorate what would have been the late president’s 99th birthday.

Machel and the Elders, a forum of leaders set up by the global statesman who steered South Africa away from a full-blown race war launched the Walk Together campaign, which will focus on advocating for peace, equality, improving health and justice of citizens around the world.

Machel said her former husband, Mandela, who died in 2013 was particularly passionate about promoting health care.

Meanwhile, humanitarian group Gift of the Givers has launched various projects to mark Mandela’s birthday. These include the distribution of 50,000 food and stationery packs in Cape Town, Johannesburg, Durban, Polokwane, Nelspruit, Bloemfontein and Port Elizabeth. This aid will go to various schools in the respective regions.

Mmusi Maimane, leader of the official opposition Democratic Alliance, said Mandela is fondly remembered for his selfless leadership, his compassion, and his unwavering commitment to reconciliation by leading South Africa’s remarkable transition from apartheid to democracy.

“As we celebrate Mandela Day today, we must all reaffirm our mission for a reconciled South Africa, working together to build a movement towards a peaceful, prosperous, and safe South Africa. Throughout his life, Mandela dedicated all his strength to building a better South Africa for all – Black, White, Gay, Straight, Muslim, Jewish, rich, and poor,” he said.

In other developments, Vejay Ramlakan, South Africa's surgeon general and Mandela’s personal physician, has launched a book detailing the Nobel Laureate’s death.

In 'Mandela’s Last Years', Ramlakan revealed that he was accompanying the former president from his Johannesburg home to a Pretoria hospital in the dead of night when the ambulance caught fire. Thirty minutes later a backup ambulance arrived and took them to the hospital.
-0- PANA CU/AR 18July2017