A wreath was also laid at the exact spot where he was arrested 56 years ago at the Nelson Mandela Capture Site in Howick.
KZN MEC for Co-Operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta), Nomusa Dube-Ncube, uMgungundlovu District Mayor, Thobeka Maphumulo, and representatives from the Nelson Mandela Foundation were in attendance. The day’s events began with a 5km walk from Midmar Dam to the Capture Site, followed by the wreath-laying ceremony and unveiling of the replica car.
Mandela, South Africa’s most-wanted terrorist back then, was arrested just after returning from a six-month covert trip through Africa and to London where he mobilised support of the ANC’s armed wing, uMkhontowe Sizwe. On his way to Johannesburg after briefing the then-ANC resident General, Chief Albert Luthuli about his trip abroad, he was arrested on August 5, 1962, near Howick. He was disguised as a chauffeur. This was a major turning point in the history of the struggle against apartheid. Mandela went on to serve 27 years in prison before eventually being released in 1990.
In Mandela’s autobiography, Long Walk To Freedom, he described the events leading up to his arrest. “Cecil and I were engrossed in discussions of sabotage plans as we passed through Howick, 20 miles north-west of Pietermaritzburg.
“At Cedara, a small town just past Howick, I noticed a Ford V-8 filled with white men shoot past us on the right… I knew in that instant that my life on the run was over; my seventeen months of ‘freedom’ were about to end.”
Mandela had thought about jumping out of the car, but knew he would have been shot. “When our car stopped, a tall slender man with a stern expression came directly over to the window on the passenger side. He was unshaven and it appeared that he had not slept in quite a while. I immediately assumed he had been waiting for us for several days,”read the excerpt.
Cogta spokesperson, Msawakhe Mayisela, said the car that was unveiled would be a permanent feature at Capture Site museum and tourists were already flocking to see it.