C Town cyclists at Mandela funeral screening

2013-12-15 11:34
Nelson Mandela (AFP)

Nelson Mandela (AFP)

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Cape Town - Fifteen cyclists stopped at the Cape Town screening of Nelson Mandela's funeral on Sunday to leave flowers and pay their last respects.

The men, who belong to the Cape Town Giants cycling club in Athlone, gathered at the Grand Parade and bought bunches of flowers from a hawker.

Adam Essa, 49, said they cycled from Athlone to Chapman's Peak and back again in memory of the global icon.

"We're touched by his passing on and as South Africans, wanted to show something different from our side."

Essa spoke fondly of meeting Mandela around seven years ago, when he was invited to his house in Houghton, Johannesburg, to show him a property development and models he had completed.

"I was in awe. There's an aura around Madiba that I've never experienced around anyone. He really makes you feel something. He emulates that peace and tranquillity, forgiveness and togetherness."

Although it was sad to watch Mandela's funeral being screened in front of the City Hall, Essa said it was a moment the country had been prepared for.

"I think what has helped is his long illness. I have managed to start to understand that he's passing on. It wasn't a sudden death."

On the other side of the parade, another cyclist watched the funeral on his bike.

Conrad Thatcher, 47, said he had travelled from Pietermaritzburg for his daughter's graduation.

Intimate ceremony

"It's such an awesome feeling [watching the funeral]. When the choir sang before the traditional leader, that's when I felt quite emotional.

"I've got four Pick n Pay franchises and a hotel, with over 500 or 600 people, and I try live his values as well."

Thatcher said his Pick n Pay stores in KwaZulu-Natal were open on Sunday and would donate their profits to the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund.

A few hundred people gathered at the Grand Parade to watch the state funeral, holding small South African flags provided by the city. A few families watched from camping chairs while others used concrete balls on the parade, and milk crates, as seats.

The weather was temperamental and fluctuated from cold and cloudy, to rainy, to patches of sun.

Mandela's state funeral, in Qunu in the Eastern Cape, had drawn together family, foreign leaders, royals, and rural villagers.

After the state funeral concluded on Sunday, the AbaThembu would receive the body to bury it according to royal protocol. Mandela would be buried next to his relatives at the family grave site in a more intimate ceremony.

Friends, colleagues, comrades and family of Nelson Mandela are invited to share their memories and tributes, and to light a candle for him, on his profile at Remembered.co.za.

Nelson Mandela will be laid to rest in Qunu. Say your final farewell and be published on News24 by e-mailing or uploading.

- SAPA

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