The stains of apartheid remain in Mandela's Alexandra

The stains of apartheid remain in Alexandra. Photo: ITV News

Today in Alexandra they danced and sang and celebrated the man they consider one of their own.

When Nelson Mandela was a young lawyer and activist, he used a small house in the township.

The square mile of shacks held three million people who lived in abject poverty, but had a character and resilience that was unmistakably "Alex ".

Twenty years ago, the soon to be President Mandela returned there and was shocked by what he found. He pledged to "wash away the stains of apartheid."

Well two decades on, those stains remain.

Unemployment, poverty and drug taking is rife. The shacks still remain. I was told today by a friend of Mandela's that the former President was bitterly disappointed by the lack of progress

"It grieved him. It really grieved him that things were so bad and people were still living in shacks", he said.

Community activist Linda Twala told Mark Austin: 'It really grieved him [Mandela] that things were so bad' Credit: ITV News

That friend, community activist Linda Twala, runs a charity helping the elderly with free daily meals.

He's also put money into a very impressive school and sports centre for the young of Alex who would otherwise be on the streets.

But his philanthropy has not been matched by the ANC government. Some new homes have been built, but not enough to make a real difference.

It is all a reminder on the day the world remembers Mandela that those who have succeeded him have failed to live up to his example.

It is no coincidence that Jacob Zuma was booed today. He is in so many ways the antithesis of Mandela. Inept, unpopular and plagued by allegations of corruption.

The elections next year are crucial and may well see support for the ANC fall further.

These are testing times for those trying to follow in Mandela's footsteps.

  • Watch Mark's original report shown on ITV News at Ten on 22nd February 1994:

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