Remember Palestine, is message from grandson

Mandla Mandela
Image: Esa Alexander

Nelson Mandela's grandson Mandla Mandela has used the commemoration of his late grandfather's release from prison to call on new ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa to do more for the people of Palestine.

Mandla, who is a member of parliament and chief of Mvezo in Qunu, Eastern Cape, called on Ramaphosa to be vocal and condemn the continued incarceration of Palestinian activist Ahed Tamimi.

Tamimi, 16, was arrested by Israeli forces in December last year after confronting Israeli soldiers during one of her protests.

"... Tamimi remains in prison while we remain silent. ... Ramaphosa, your voice can bring about the necessary change for the release of Ahed Tamimi and many Palestinian children and women in Israeli apartheid jails.

"Your call can free Palestinian political prisoners. Your call can lead us to realise Madiba's call for a free Palestine," said Mandla.

He added: "From his youth until the day he breathed his last President Mandela remained committed to the cause of freedom and justice in the world.

"His heart was always with the struggling masses of the world. No cause was as close to his heart as the Palestinian cause which he regarded as 'the greatest moral issue of our time'.

"Perhaps it is this moral compass that we have lost as the Palestinians look to us for support just as ordinary South Africans look to our newly elected ANC leadership in angst and anticipation."

Meanwhile, the Western Cape government commemorated the event with a week-long programme that ended yesterday with a road-running event.

The province kicked off celebrations with a rugby game and chess tournament at the Drakenstein Correctional Centre in Paarl.

The prison, formerly known Victor Verster Prison, was Mandela's home for two months before his release.

The Department of Correctional Services had also partnered with the provincial government for the 27 For Freedom Race.

Spokesman Singabakho Nxumalo said inmates at various correctional centres were currently working on a project called Massive Mandela Masterpiece in which they were knitting thousands of blankets which will be assembled to resemble Madiba's portrait.

"Working together with an organisation called 67 Blankets, the portrait will be unveiled on April 24 2018 in Zonderwater Correctional Centre, comprising about 3066 blankets, making it a total size of 7848.96 square metres."

The Ahmed Kathrada Foundation has used the day to challenge leaders in all spheres to show integrity and commitment towards building a better South Africa.

"In 2018, South Africa requires of its leaders the same level of integrity and commitment to a forward-looking vision as was displayed by Madiba on the day of his release in 1990," it said.

The foundation's executive director, Neeshan Balton, said they also remember that the last public activity the late Kathrada appeared in was at an event at Drakenstein Prison on this day last year.