Politicians pay tribute to Mandela, footballers to hold minute’s silence

Dutch politicians have been paying tribute to Nelson Mandela, the former South African president who fought to end apartheid, who died on Thursday at the age of 95.

Prime minister Mark Rutte said Mandela’s death was reason for a quiet moment of reflection.

‘Nelson Mandela was a unique person with unbelievable charisma and a great moral authority,’ Rutte said. ‘Even after 27 years on Robben Island, he continued to believe in humanity. There was a place for everyone in his new South Africa.’

Foreign minister Frans Timmermans said Mandela’s legacy will contine to inspire countless generations.


Mandela had rare generosity of spirit, the foreign minister said. ‘How else can you explain the fact that a man who was imprisoned for his beliefs for decades… came without bitterness or resentment to seek reconciliation with his former oppressor?’

Dutch politicians from across the political spectrum were quick to pay their respects.

‘He strived for freedom and won that fight. He fought against the inequality of apartheid and won that fight,’ said D66 leader Alexander Pechtold. ‘People with such significance are rare in world history.’

‘He gave South Africa its freedom back and was an example of leadership in its most pure and just form,’ said Halbe Zijlstra, parliamentary leader of the VVD Liberals.

The Dutch football association KNVB has called for a minute’s silence to remember Nelson Mandela to be held before this weekend’s premier and first divison football games.

Mandela was a fan of sport. His last big public appearance was the final of the 2010 World Cup between the Netherlands and Spain in Johannesburg, Nos television said.

Nos television is carrying a photograph of Mandela in 1997 posing with Oranje, and Ruud Gullit.

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