Mandela memories shared by Orlando West voters

08 May 2019 - 14:12 By Nonkululeko Njilo
Emily Mahlatsi, 91, arrives at Orlando West High School, where she is voting in the general elections.
Emily Mahlatsi, 91, arrives at Orlando West High School, where she is voting in the general elections.
Image: Nonkululeko Njilo/TimesLIVE

It was a busy, chilly Wednesday morning in Vilakazi Street, Orlando West, as hundreds cast their votes just a few metres from the one-time Mandela home.

"Winnie was our neighbour. She was passionate about the struggle and freedom of this country. I voted to make a difference and honour her," said Daniel Mazibuko.

Nelson Mandela and his first two wives famously lived in a small house on Vilakazi Street in the Soweto suburb. The late Winnie Madikizela-Mandela subsequently became a longtime resident of an upmarket home in Maseli Street in the same suburb until her death last year.

Approximately 2,000 people applied to cast their votes at Orlando West High School. A number of them in the early queue were elderly citizens who arrived warmly dressed, excited to cast their votes despite the cold weather, and filled with pride at the achievements of their erstwhile neighbours.

Mazibuko urged the government to prioritise issues around housing, electricity and the elderly on its agenda.

Another resident said while she understood it would take time for everybody to be satisfied with the government's performance, she could not wait to vote.

"I could not sleep since yesterday, voting is such a privilege to me. You know back in the apartheid era, we used to watch white people do it, so now, even me, I have the right to do so, it's very nice," said 71-year-old Norah Ndlovu.

While she had voted in the past elections, Ndlovu said it felt like a dream each time.

"A lot of people won't understand, even my kids don't understand because they were not born during apartheid," she said.

Emily Mahlatsi, who gave her age as 91 and had to be carried into the voting station, also said she could not miss such an opportunity.

"I like my party, they liberated us, they built houses for us and our children... I will vote for them till I die."

Mahlatsi said she was forgetful but if there was one thing she would never forget it was the party that set her free.

The IEC's presiding officer, Joseph Malindi, said the voting process was going smoothly.

"It's going really well, we've seen a lot of people coming to cast their votes, young and old...," he said.

By 11am, over 300 people had already voted.