Visitors are still paying their last respects
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.