President Cyril Ramaphosa says the lighting of candles lights up the hope that South Africa needs so that it can defeat the coronavirus (COVID-19). The President led a candlelight ceremony at the Khayelitsha District Hospital in the Cape Flats. The ceremony was in honour frontline health care-workers and to remember the 28 469 people who lost their lives due to COVID-19.

He was accompanied by Western Cape Premier Allan Winde, Health MEC Nomafrench Mbombo, the State and Security Deputy Minister and various religious leaders.

President Cyril Ramaphosa leads candle lighting commemoration for COVID-19 victims:

Ramaphosa has described 2020 as a year in hell.

The candlelight ceremony started officially with prayers of hope from various religious leaders from the Christian, Muslim and Jewish communities.

Scores of health care workers from the Khayelitsha District Hospital were in attendance, led by Acting CEO Grace Mashaba.

“Today is the last day of the year of the nurses and we are so honoured. I feel that as a nurse of Khayelitsha District Hospital and Acting CEO today and for the community of Khayelitsha District Hospital. We are so blessed to have our President with us(on) this Day to say Goodbye to 2020. This year was not an easy year. We fell and we stood up and we survived and we are moving on and we want to say thank God from going through or from picking us up as we went through this year. And we manage to say we started on the 1st, today is the 31st so the Lord is so good,” Mashaba said.

Health MEC Mbombo highlighted how some of the hospital workers were also affected by COVID-19.

“The Khayelitsha District Hospital is one of the District Hospitals in the Metro where we have declared as a hotspot. Here we have got various staff members and some of them were not supposed to be here by the way…So I want to acknowledge the whole team; specifically, the acting clinical managers who are here and noting some of them are coming from being quarantined and isolated. They have been infected. But also acknowledging that we have staff members who are still in isolation.”

“Premier Allan Winde who is also a survivor of COVID-19, was almost lost for words as he described how the year ended.

“It is the end of a very very difficult year. A year that has challenged every single one of us in this country, in this province on this planet; a very difficult year. It is a year that for me, I sometimes say to myself did I put my hand for this. President, I’m sure you would say the same thing? But you know when you put up your hand, you just have to do it. You just have to pull that team together and you just have to make sure that you do the best that we can in the interest of the citizens of our region.”

Ramaphosa said 2020 has been the most difficult year.

“2020 Has been a year of hell. It has been the most difficult year for all of us here in South Africa. I could not think of a better moment to spend with people who have put their lives on the line, who have been the true frontline workers, who have been willing to sacrifice everything so that they could save the lives of many other people. We bow our heads, we dip our heads and we also bow our knees. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts. We could never thank you enough. Many of you have passed on and many of you are currently infected and were infected and either in isolation or in quarantine, but you bore it all. After coming out of isolation or quarantine, you still came back to work. You still came back to serve the people of our country to care for the sick. To put a bandage on broken lives, to make sure that those who could be cared for continued living.”

President Cyril Ramaphosa urges unity among citizens in order to win against the coronavirus in 2021:

Ramaphosa said: “Now I ask, the Premier, I ask the MEC, I ask the Deputy Minister I ask our religious leaders to come forward so that together, with social distancing; light our candles. Each one will light a candle. And we will light the main candle. The wind is blowing here in Khayelitsha. Cape Town is the windy city but the candle will be lit even if it flickers for a moment. It is lighting the hope that our country needs so that we can move forward in defeating coronavirus. And thank you very much for coming out. Some of you were already on leave. Thank you very much for coming back to be part of this most important ceremony that is so important because symbolically, it demonstrates our resolve as a people to defeat coronavirus. But it also demonstrates our honour and our acknowledgement in recognition of health workers and also our morning of those who have departed.”