Transport Minister Sibusiso Ndebele has said that the Zenani Mandela Road Safety Scholarship will help young South Africans tackle the growing epidemic of death and injury on the country’s roads.
The Scholarship, in memory of 13-year-old Zenani Mandela Jnr, was officially announced in London earlier today (12 April 2011) together with the Nelson Mandela Foundation and the Commission for Global Road Safety. Zenani was killed exactly 10 months ago to the day yesterday (11 April 2011) in a tragic car accident in the early hours of 11 June 2010 after attending the 2010 FIFA World Cup Kick Off Concert in Soweto.
The Scholarship is a programme to identify, train and support future leaders and experts to take forward road safety programmes in South Africa and around the world, and will contribute to the United Nations (UN) Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020 to be officially launched world-wide on 11 May 2011.
The announcement took place at the launch of the ‘Make Roads Safe, Time for Action’ report of the Commission for Global Road Safety. The report makes a series of recommendations for the UN Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020. Road safety activists from around the world attended the event including Zenani’s mother Zoleka Mandela, her grandmother Zindzi Mandela, Minister Ndebele, Lord Robertson of Port Ellen and HRH Prince Michael of Kent.
Announcing the Scholarship, Zoleka Mandela said: “My family and I are very fortunate to have my daughter’s memory honoured in such a profound manner. Life could have never prepared me for the life changing loss of the only friend I have really had in this world. I have not spoken publicly about my daughter’s sudden and painful passing until this very moment. I stand here this morning before you; hoping that I being my daughter’s voice and possibly the voice of many others, would have carried through to you all today a message of hope, a message of unity and most of all a message of intolerance towards the horrific toll of road accidents.”
During his address, Minister Ndebele said: “The Zenani Mandela Road Safety Scholarship will help young South Africans tackle the growing epidemic of death and injury on our country’s roads. It is the living who close the eyes of the dead, but it is the dead who must open the eyes of the living. South Africa fully supports the Make Roads Safe campaign as well as the Decade of Action for Road Safety, to reduce the appalling projected increase in road deaths. Let us strengthen this global movement that is demanding real action against road deaths, and save millions of lives and billions of dollars. But, we must act now.”
Lord Robertson, Chairman of the Commission for Global Road Safety, said: “We desperately need to support our young leaders and help them develop the expertise to tackle the growing global epidemic of road casualties. Far too many children are killed and injured each day on the roads. Too many families are suffering. No one should have to bear pain like that felt by the Mandela family. It is time for action.”
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), during the course of the decade (2011-2020), as many as 5-million lives could be saved and 50-million serious injuries prevented if road safety programmes are implemented worldwide. The launch of the UN Decade of Action on 11 May 2011 is being jointly organised by the WHO together with the FIA Foundation, an independent UK charity which runs the Commission for Global Road Safety.