News / Africa

S. Africans Gather Outside Mandela’s Johannesburg Home

People light a candle for former president Nelson Mandela on hearing of his death outside his home in Johannesburg, South Africa, Dec. 5, 2013.
People light a candle for former president Nelson Mandela on hearing of his death outside his home in Johannesburg, South Africa, Dec. 5, 2013.
As news broke that the first leader of post-apartheid South Africa had died, Nelson Mandela's countrymen began to gather outside his home in a leafy suburb of Johannesburg.

The streets were blocked off around Nelson Mandela's home in the moments after his death was announced on national television and radio. Mourners from all corners of Johannesburg and from surrounding cities began streaming in, some carrying flowers, South African flags and candles.

Outside of his home, several hundred people were gathered around 1 a.m., chanting his name and singing songs in his memory.

Sikhumbuzo Vilane drove an hour to come to Mandela's Houghton home as soon as he heard the news.

"I was shocked and very, very sad…He meant everything to me and I hope to every South African," he said.

Vilane says Mandela's election as president in 1994, after his release from prison, was life altering.

"It was like new hope, a new day for South Africa.  It was like a country being reborn....Whatever I am today," he said. "Most of what I have today, most of what I've achieved.  Most of it I could attribute to Mandela's fight for freedom."

Mourners continued gathering through the night outside the Mandela home.  Helicopters flew overhead and police directed traffic for blocks around the house.

  • People sing and dance during a gathering of mourners on Vilakazi Street in Soweto, Dec. 6, 2013.
  • A young girl with a poster of Nelson Mandela marches with others to celebrate his life, in the street outside his old house in Soweto, Johannesburg, Dec. 6, 2013.
  • Township residents march to celebrate the life of Nelson Mandela in the street outside his old house in Soweto, Johannesburg, Dec. 6, 2013.
  • A woman cries as she holds a candle and a flower outside former South African President Nelson Mandela's house in Houghton, Dec. 5, 2013a
  • A girl holds a South African national flag as people mourn the death of Nelson Mandela outside Cape Town City Hall, Dec. 6, 2013.
  • Keaton Anderson, 10, poses for a photograph for his father Dijon Anderson as they visit the statue of Nelson Mandela at the South African Embassy in Washington, Dec. 5, 2013.
  • Newspapers with pictures of Nelson Mandela on the front page on sale in London, Dec. 6, 2013.
  • Schoolchildren hold candles and portraits of Nelson Mandela during a prayer ceremony at a school in the western Indian city of Ahmedabad, Dec. 6, 2013.
  • A woman with a banner pays tribute to Nelson Mandela outside the South African High Commission in London, Dec. 6, 2013.
  • People release paper lanterns after lighting them outside Madiba, a restaurant named in honor of Nelson Mandela, in the Brooklyn borough of New York, Dec. 5, 2013.
  • People listen to a radio as South African President Jacob Zuma announces the death of former South African President Nelson Mandela in Houghton, Dec. 5, 2013.
  • A man holds candles in front of a mural of former South African President Nelson Mandela and U.S. President Barack Obama in New York, Dec. 5, 2013.
  • Pedestrians pass beneath the Apollo Theater marquee commemorating the life of South African leader Nelson Mandela in the Harlem neighborhood of New York, Dec. 5, 2013.

Snkosina Nkosi, a cab driver, lives nearby.  He stopped by to see if what he'd heard was true.

"When I heard about his health, I was at work.  I heard the announcement on the radio." he said. "I just let me rush before I arrange my house, and see by my own eyes whether it's true that our icon has passed away, so I know the truth."

Nkosi says he owes his freedom to the late anti-apartheid leader.

"Before Mandela became president, it was hard for people to go wherever they wanted to go," he said. "Since Mandela became president.  We've got the freedom to go wherever we want to go.  We go just because of Mandela."

South African singer Mercy Pakela walked down the street to pay her respects to her neighbor and friend.  Pakela, who had met Mandela several times, said it is a big loss for the country, but Mandela's work is done, referencing the name of his autobiography.

"He's walked the long walk to freedom, but he is free now and he's happy and he's peaceful wherever he is because he's done his work," she said.

Flags will be flown at half staff Friday, as the country mourns the loss of its beloved former president.​

You May Like

Myanmar Fighting Poses Dilemma for China

To gain some insight into conflict, VOA’s Steve Herman spoke with Min Zaw Oo, director of ceasefire negotiation and implementation at Myanmar Peace Center More

Australia Concerned Over Islamic State 'Brides'

Canberra believes there are between 30 and 40 Australian women who have taken part in terror attacks or are supporting the Islamic State terror network More

Recreational Marijuana Use Now Legal in Washington, DC

Law allows adults 21 and over to privately possess and smoke 0.05 kilogram of pot, and to grow small amounts of the plant More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More