Led by the hospital’s child ambassador, six-year-old Michai’ah Simons, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi turned the first sod.

Scores of children broke into cheers of jubilation as five huge earth-moving machines roared into action on the site.

Speaking at the construction site, Sibongile Mkhabela, CEO of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital Trust, said the hospital was dedicated to the children of southern Africa.

Sibongile said: “After years of fundraising under difficult economic conditions, we are proud to announce that we have raised R570 million, enabling us to break ground and start building the hospital. Fundraising by the hospital trust will continue until the target of R1 billion is reached.”

Motsoaledi said: “On behalf of the Department of Health, we commit our continued support. The hospital will be a place for teaching and research.”

Wits University Vice Chancellor Professor Adam Habib remembered how Madiba walked the academic institution’s grounds in the 1940s and was told by one of its academics that “black people cannot be great lawyers”.

“I wish to apologise for this and the donation of land to make your dream a reality is our demonstration of our apology .Wits University will ensure that we have various academic and clinical synergies for the operation of the hospital and for the training and education of high level clinical paediatric skills in the southern African region,” he said.

Through its training and research, the hospital will build human capacity and will spread the ethos, values and approach of Mr Mandela.

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Image credit: Getty