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Everyday is Mandela Day in the City of Johannesburg.

This was again reinforced on Friday when the City’s Member of the Mayoral Committee for Housing, Councillor Dan Bovu, handed over houses to eight vulnerable families in Region G – 13 days after the world officially celebrated the selflessness of former president Nelson Mandela on what would have been his 97th birthday.

The eight beneficiaries include a child-headed household. The rest are elderly residents who have been living in tin shacks for almost their entire lives. MMC Bovu said the gifts were a result of the generosity and selflessness of a number of developers who were working with the City in the delivery of RDP housing in the region.

“This is a perfect example of a private-public partnership at work,” the MMC said.

He said developers had volunteered to build the houses, worth R100 000 each, from their own pockets as their contribution to the “67 Minutes for Mandela” campaign, during which individuals and organisations spent 67 minutes of their time on July 18 working on projects aimed at benefiting less fortunate people in their communities. The 67 minutes represent the number of years that Mandela spent fighting for democracy, freedom and social justice.

Six of the eight houses were built from scratch, whereas the other two were already existing homes but badly in need of a makeover. MMC Bovu said this was a demonstration that Joburg was a caring city determined to create stable and sustainable families.

“It really gives us joy to be handing over these houses in line with the legacy of the late former president Nelson Mandela, who taught us to take care of those less fortunate than us,” MMC Bovu said.

The handover was witnessed by MMC for Corporate Services Councillor Mally Mokoena and ward councillors Shirley Nemfumbaza and Eric Nkwanyane. Echoing MMC Bovu, MMC Mokoena, who also plays an oversight role in Region G, said though official Mandela Day celebrations had come and gone, it was imperative to “make everyday a Mandela Day”.

She praised the developers for their magnanimity and called on communities to continue to support each other.

“Tata Nelson Mandela may be gone but his spirit continues to live among us,” she said.

The beneficiaries were overwhelmed with joy. Some could be seen shedding a tear during the proceedings. Speaking on behalf of the beneficiaries, Qata Chonco, 85, of Wiellers Farm, said it felt like Christmas had come a bit early for them. He said words failed him in his attempt to express his gratitude.

“Today we are also people among people. You have really brought back dignity in our lives. Thank you very much,” he said.

The developers who made this gesture a reality are Riaphela General Services, Quantum Leap, Foundation Motheo, Thodi Developers and MashLapa.