Mandela honoured as he remains in hospital

2012-12-13 17:51

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Former president Nelson Mandela’s family is keeping watch over him as he spends his sixth day in Pretoria’s 1 Military Hospital.

They did not even attend the unveiling of a statue of him on Bloemfontein’s Naval Hill today, where President Jacob Zuma lavished praise on him.

Zuma also wished Mandela well in hospital “where he is being treated for a lung infection”, assuring him of the “love and support of all South Africans during his hospitalisation”.

The seven-metre high statue, one of the biggest in the country, was unveiled as six, and then 94, white doves were released into a stormy sky, denoting Mandela’s age and the total denoting the ANC’s centenary.

Zuma also remembered former chief justice Arthur Chaskalson and former director-general in Mandela’s office, Jakes Gerwel, both of whom died in recent weeks.

Zuma said Mandela was a “humble person, a principled leader whose life of selfless dedication to the cause of equality, freedom and dignity for all continues to be a source of inspiration to South Africans and indeed to all humanity”.

Zuma said the statue over the Mangaung Metro reminds us “of the path that we as South Africans have travelled in our struggle to be free”.

Bloemfontein was the birth place of the ANC in 1912.

Zuma said Mandela’s values were “a symbol of our reconciliation and tolerance as a nation”.

Earlier Free State Premier Ace Magashule lavished praise on Zuma, telling him “in you we see hope, we know the future will be better”.

Magashule also said the people are “completely behind Zuma” who has “emerged out of struggle” and was not made by the media.

Magashule is known to be behind a second term for Zuma as ANC leader.

The city and the ANC are gearing up for the start of the ANC’s elective congress on Sunday.

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