‘It felt like somebody had taken a piece of me’

2013-12-07 16:29

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It was a day of mixed emotions as hundreds of people descended on Vilakazi Street in Orlando West, Soweto, to celebrate the life of former president Nelson Mandela.

Many told City Press they were saddened by his death but felt he had run his race and deserved to rest in peace.

Minkie Locke (53) from Meadowlands told City Press that the news of Mandela’s death left a void in her heart. She said when her friend phoned her at about 10.30pm to tell her the news, she broke down and cried.

“It felt like somebody had taken a piece of me. I have never met Mandela but he was my hero and like a father to me.

“I lived through apartheid and I don’t think after being locked up in prison for 27 years I would come out and preach reconciliation with the people who put me through such pain. He was a man among men and I don’t think any man can ever come close to what he was,” Locke said.

Ernestina Machaka (70), who once accompanied Mandela’s ex-wife, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, to court during the Rivonia Trial, said although she was sad about the former president’s passing, she said she was happy he was no longer suffering.

“A man like Mandela, who suffered for almost three decades, does not deserve to suffer in his golden years. In a way it is a good thing that God took him because he had run his race,” she said.

Minna Kangas (54) from Finland, who moved to South Africa in August this year, shared similar sentiments.

“Mandela paid his dues in this world and I would have preferred that he rest in peace rather than rely on life support for another few years. The man suffered enough during his incarceration. He deserved some rest,” she said.

Dine Monama (32), from Dube in Soweto, had a different view. She said South Africa still needed some Madiba magic.

“Mandela had a way of reaching out to people and bringing out the best in everybody. Although we are a democratic country, I believe more still needs to be done to integrate white and black people.

“Racism is still very much alive in this country although we try to tolerate each other. Knowing that Tata Mandela was still with us could have helped us move beyond that divide. Now I wonder if there will be a leader like him who would be obsessed with non-racialism and unity in South Africa,” Monama said.

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