Visi­tors are still pay­ing their last re­spects

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - NONI MOKATI

THE FLOW­ERS, mes­sages, can­dles, pho­tos and paint­ings draped around trees, placed on the lawn or hung on a tem­po­rary fence along 4th Street and 12th Av­enue in Houghton have been re­moved.

The street cor­ner has been swept clean, and all that re­mains are small coloured peb­bles neatly placed on the lawn.

De­spite this, scores of peo­ple con­tinue to come to Nel­son Man­dela’s home.

Street ven­dors are res­o­lute, de­ter­mined to con­tinue to sell ap­parel in hon­our of the for­mer pres­i­dent.

Last week the City of Joburg’s waste man­age­ment util­ity, Pik­itup, cleared up the shrine out­side the house, which steadily grew af­ter Madiba’s death was an­nounced on De­cem­ber 5.

Street ven­dor Amina Manini be­lieved more work needed to be done af­ter the clean-up.

This week, Manini and her friends went to Man­dela’s house to ask for clean­ing equip­ment.

She wanted to clear away the wax that had been left be­hind by the can­dles.

“We asked the se­cu­rity and the po­lice at the gate if they could give us a broom, soap and buck­ets. They were very kind about it,” Manini said. “They agreed.”

She said they had scrubbed the street as best they could, adding that it was hard work in the heat.

“We didn’t do this be­cause we were asked to – it’s some­thing we did out of the good­ness of our hearts, just like the in­cred­i­ble man who lived in this house did for so many peo­ple.”

Manini said she had been at the house un­der her small blue tent sell­ing Man­dela T-shirts, caps and badges since the be­gin­ning of the month.

For street ven­dor Lun­gelo Ntombela, the for­mer states­man’s house had be­come his ma­jor source of in­come.

Ntombela said he was able to pro­vide for his fam­ily with the money he had made from mer­chan­dise sold to tourists. His stock in­cluded 3D posters of Madiba.

“I’m still here. How­ever, I don’t know for how long. I’ll con­tinue sell­ing for as long as we aren’t chased away,” he said.

His fam­ily ar­rived in the early hours of the morn­ing and left late dur­ing the 10- day mourn­ing pe­riod.

Ntombela said that since Man­dela’s burial, sales had dwin­dled.

He fur­ther lamented that the house wasn’t go­ing to be turned into a mu­seum.

“They should re­ally do some­thing about it. Peo­ple come here hop­ing to go in­side. They want to be part of it all,” he said.

Tshidi Mok­gobo ar­rived at the house for the first time this week. She, too, sells T-shirts and caps.

“His spirit lives on. Peo­ple con­tinue to come here and I want to give them some­thing they can take back home. For those who come from far, they’ll be leav­ing with his legacy,” she said.

A fam­ily from Pi­eter­mar­itzburg vis­it­ing friends in Joburg was one of the many groups who stopped to take pic­tures in front of the house and lay flow­ers while the news team was there.

“Just to be here says it all. I’ve seen his house on my TV screen so many times, but to stand here with my kids and my fam­ily is sur­real,” the fa­ther said.

“It speaks of an in­cred­i­ble man who lived a re­mark­able life.”



HATS OFF TO A GREAT MAN: Lun­gelo Ntombela sells Man­dela me­mora­bilia in Houghton.

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