Premier and Minister Open Refurbished "Madiba Freedom Walk" Road
On 20 August 2013, Premier Helen Zille and Western Cape Minister of Transport and Public Works Robin Carlisle officially opened the refurbished "Madiba Freedom Walk" road (Schuurmansfontein Road) at the Drakenstein Correctional Centre (formerly Victor Verster Prison) in a ribbon-cutting ceremony. The road is the historic site where former president Nelson Mandela took his first steps to freedom from the then-Victor Verster Prison where he was incarcerated from December 1988, after being held initially on Robben Island and then transferred to Pollsmoor Prison.
The provincial road has been rebuilt by the Western Cape Department of Transport and Public Works in partnership with Cape Winelands District Municipality, as an investment to preserve this significant piece of South African history and honour the legacy of Nelson Mandela as a statesman and global icon. Premier Zille and Minister Carlisle also received a tour of the house in the correctional facility where Nelson Mandela lived and held meetings with former president PW Botha as well as ANC leaders, laying the groundwork for the negotiated settlement which culminated in the first non-racial elections in 1994.
Premier Zille said, “This place is one of many sites across South Africa that mark important milestones in the life of Mr Mandela that have historical significance in our country. Like Chancellor House in central Johannesburg where Mr Mandela and Oliver Tambo established their law firm, the Madiba house on Vilakazi Street in Soweto, Liliesleaf Farm in Rivonia, Robben Island where he spent most of his years in incarceration and the Cape Town City Hall and Grand Parade where Mr Mandela delivered his first major public speech as a free man to the thousands gathered, this is part of South Africa’s heritage that we must preserve. It is our way to honour his legacy of reconciliation and celebrate his vision of South Africa as one nation with one future under the constitution.”
Minister Carlisle said, “The surfacing of the previously poor quality gravel road commenced on 2 April 2013 and took eight weeks to complete, upgrading 2 km of road at a cost of R 6 million. It was an important project for a site that is part of our heritage as the ‘second Robben Island’ of the Western Cape and the project is a fitting contribution to upholding the esteem of the living legacy that is Madiba.”