Mandela To Skip Celebrations

The party was clarifying the anniversary programme after confusion about the participation of the frail anti-apartheid icon.

The ANC said: “The only activity that Madiba will attend is the state of the nation address, which will take place on Thursday evening in parliament.”

President Jacob Zuma will deliver the address at the opening of parliament.

Last week, Deputy Police Minister Fikile Mbalula, who is overseeing the anniversary activities, was quoted as saying that Mandela himself was expected to attend the celebrations at Victor Verster prison – the prison from which he memorably walked free hand-in-hand with his then wife Winnie on February 11, 1990.

The jail outside the town of Paarl in the Western Cape is where Mandela spent the last years of his 27-year imprisonment for defying apartheid rule.

In Mandela’s absence, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela will headline the event, by leading a 500-metre walk to symbolise Mandela’s walk to freedom from the prison.

Mandela, who became South Africa’s first democratically-elected president four years after his release, relies on a wheelchair for mobility now. – Sapa-DPA