Mandela Day Turns Into Clean Up Day Of Hope

South Africans remembered freedom icon Nelson Mandela on Sunday with many activities including cleaning up shopping centres that were vandalised in the week of looting madness.

“On this occasion, we urge South Africans to embrace Madiba’s values and honour his legacy through humanitarian acts and initiatives that acknowledge his never-ending quest to change the world for the better,” said the African National Congress.

“Let us use Mandela Day to provide food to the most vulnerable in our society, to clean up our streets and to start the task of rebuilding.

“Over the past few days, the country experienced violence that has led to the loss of life, looting of malls and shops, and destruction of property and businesses, including attacks on informal traders.

The turmoil was sparked by a political grievance dubbed the #FreeZuma campaign that was hijacked by criminal elements.

The ANC said these incidents are not part of a society that Tata Madiba aspired to build.

“We welcome swift action taken by the government in dealing with the situation,” said the ANC in a statement.

“Any destruction of public property in a bid to raise a grievance must be condemned in the strongest possible terms and be dealt with accordingly by the law enforcement agencies.

“We also applaud South Africans who rejected this violence and destruction of the gains of our democracy by not participating in the acts.”

President Cyril Ramaphosa got his hands dirty in Soweto, where he shoveled rubble away.

“We join all South Africans who have been engaged in cleanup and rebuilding activities in Gauteng and KZN following the devastation caused by the public violence and looting that took place,” said the president. 

He added: “We say thank you for defending our democracy”.

The gestures of coming together to deal with the aftermath of unrest and looting were reminiscent of the way Mandela would have behaved.

The SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) used Mandela Day to condemn the lawlessness and violence that has resulted in the loss of lives and livelihoods.

More than 200 people lost their lives in the unrest. The death toll could still rise.

On Saturday night Emer-G-Med responded to a call from the Westmead area, near Pinetown, where a truck had rammed a guardhouse causing the structure to collapse.

The business owners believed a person was trapped beneath the rubble. A search ensued and the body of a man of about 30 years of age was found beneath the rubble.

“It is believed that the man was a looter and was entrapped and killed when the structure collapsed earlier in the week,” said a statement from Emer-G-Med.

The SAHRC urged adult persons to, “set an example for the young in our midst so that our failures today are not inflicted on our country tomorrow”.

Ramaphosa rounded off his Soweto clean-up with a visit to Maponya Mall, the only shopping centre that was not vandalised in the area.

“Maponya Mall was my final stop today, where I met with a group of young people led by Nhlanhla Lux, who rose up during the riots and worked closely with law enforcement to protect Maponya Mall,” said the president.

“A pride of our nation that has managed to create jobs and sustain livelihoods.” 

Police have arrested more than 2 000 suspects for public violence and looting..