Mandela statue to grace Union Buildings


3 September 2013

South Africa will honour former president Nelson Mandela by unveiling a golden statue of him as the country marks the 100th anniversary of the Union Buildings in Pretoria in December.

Making the announcement at a business briefing in Johannesburg on Tuesday, Arts and Culture Minister Paul Mashatile said that work on the statue was at an advanced stage.

Mandela was discharged from hospital in Pretoria on Sunday morning in order to continue receiving treatment for a respiratory illness at his home in Houghton, Johannesburg.

The Presidency said that the 95-year-old former statesman’s condition “remains critical and is at times unstable”, but that his team of doctors were convinced that he would receive the same level of intensive care at his home that he had been receiving in hospital.

“We take this opportunity once again to wish Tata Madiba well as he recovers from home,” Mashatile said on Tuesday. “Even in sickness, Tata Madiba continues to unite our nation and remains an enjoining symbol of our freedom and democracy.”

The imposing Union Buildings, part of the official seat of the South African government, are located at the northern end of Arcadia in Pretoria.

Designed by British architect Sir Herbert Baker in 1908, construction of the Union Buildings began in 1909 and was completed almost three years later, in 1913.

Approximately 1 265 artisans, workmen and labourers were involved in building the structure, using around 14-million bricks for the interior office walls, half-a-million cubic feet of freestone, 74 000 cubic yards of concrete, 40 000 bags of cement and 20 000 cubic feet of granite.

On 10 May 1994, Mandela, South Africa’s first democratically elected president, and his deputy presidents were inaugurated at the Union Buildings, after the country’s first free elections, heralding the beginning of a new era in South Africa’s history.