Man­dela tree gets cham­pion sta­tus

The Times (South Africa) - - NEWS - PENWELL DLAMINI

YOU can­not cut it‚ prune it or even get into the fenced area where it is planted. That is the tree planted by the late pres­i­dent Nel­son Man­dela in 2008 at Thokoza Park in Soweto‚ which has now been gazetted by the Gaut­eng Her­itage Re­source Author­ity as a cham­pion tree.

When the indige­nous white stinkwood tree was planted‚ it was about three years old.

Yes­ter­day‚ Jo­han­nes­burg City Parks and Zoo cel­e­brated the sta­tus that the tree has re­ceived among the mil­lions of trees in Jo­han­nes­burg. A cham­pion tree‚ in terms of leg­is­la­tion‚ means that it must be pro­tected and pre­served‚ City Parks spokesman Jenny Mood­ley ex­plained.

“Our re­spon­si­bil­ity as Jo­han­nes­burg City Parks and Zoo is to make sure that the tree re­mains tall and strong‚” Mood­ley said.

In­side the fenced area are two plaques — one an ex­tract from Madiba’s No­bel peace prize ac­cep­tance speech and the other the time­line of his jour­ney from birth.

“This tree will not be cut. If it is go­ing to be pruned in the near fu­ture it will have to be done in con­sul­ta­tion with an ar­bori­cul­tur­ist and so on. You can’t ex­pect a nor­mal street team to come and prune this tree‚” Mood­ley said.

“We are ab­so­lutely grate­ful to the res­i­dents of Soweto that to date this place has not been van­dalised.

“We would like to think that they hon­our this site so we do not an­tic­i­pate any in­ci­dent on the site.”

She added that tourists visit the tree fre­quently and take pic­tures next to it.

Pic­ture: MASI LOSI

GREAT WHITE STINKWOOD: The tree that for­mer pres­i­dent Nel­son Man­dela planted at Thokoza Park has now been gazetted by the Gaut­eng Her­itage Re­source Author­ity

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