South Africa: While SA Remembers Madiba, Rivonia Trialist Warns of a Country in 'Crisis'

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Nelson Mandela

Thirty years after Nelson Mandela was released from Victor Verster prison to address crowds at Cape Town's Grand Parade, President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed a special anniversary event at the same location. Among the gathered dignitaries was Mandela's fellow Rivonia trialist Denis Goldberg, who believes that this is an especially fraught moment for South Africa.

Three decades after Nelson Mandela made his first public appearance as a free man at Cape Town's Grand Parade, one of the comrades sentenced alongside Mandela at the Rivonia Trial pointed at the steps outside City Hall from his wheelchair.

"Nelson made his speech on that balcony, and he thanked the people of South Africa for setting him free. He did not thank the government," 86-year-old Denis Goldberg told Daily Maverick.

"We were in crisis then, and we are in crisis now. And only the people can get it right."

Goldberg's words summed up a bitter-sweet atmosphere on the 30th anniversary of Mandela's release from Victor Verster prison: one in which the freedom of Mandela was remembered as a time of extraordinary hope and joy, but tempered by the reality of the scale of the challenges facing South Africa today.

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