Mandela’s Jozi home transformed into luxury tourist hotel

Thursday July 29 2021
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South Africa's former President Nelson Mandela on August 25, 2010 in this handout photograph released by the Nelson Mandela Foundation. The once-glamorous but later abandoned home of Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg is getting a major makeover. PHOTO/NELSON MANDELA FOUNDATION/AFP

By The East African

The once-glamorous but later abandoned home of Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg is getting a major makeover.

To be renamed the Sanctuary Mandela, the house located in Houghton, a suburb of Johannesburg (Jozi), the house will from this August be accessed by the public as a residential space and not a museum as has been the case.

This was relayed as a special announcement to mark this year’s Mandela Day celebration on July 18. The house makeover by The Nelson Mandela Foundation and Motsamayi Tourism Group will see the Mandela home transformed into a luxury tourist hotel.

The Sanctuary Mandela Hotel is expected to be a destination with a personal connection to the private life of Mandela.

The house was abandoned by Mandela’s three grandchildren, sons to the late Makgatho Mandela, a son by his first wife Evelyne. They lived here until 2020, and left following family wrangles. The once-glamorous premises remained unattended since then.

Inspirational space

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“When we found the house, it was completely vandalised, so a lot of the property in it couldn’t be secured, as it had been stolen,” said Jerry Mabena, the Motsamayi Tourism Group CEO, told a South African TV station.

The renovation and furnishing meant acquisition of artefacts to put in the house to create an inspirational space. Mabena said a good section of the house had to be torn down because it was not safe for occupation.

“We named it Sanctuary Mandela because we want it to be a place where one can visit to rekindle their spirit in reflection of Mandela’s life,” he said.

On affordability, Mabena said not all South Africans will access it but the lowest going rate is Rand 4,000 ($276) per night for a room. The most expensive room will be the Presidential Suite, going for Rand 15,000 ($1,035).

With doors yet to be opened for tourists, Mabena says the hotel’s transformation is almost complete and that locals have embraced the development and there is already foreign interest.

*Written by Andrew Kazibwe 

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