The Union Jack at the Civic Offices in Thurrock was at half mast.
Educationalist Siya Twani is well-known to the Thurrock community as he has spoken to a host of organisations throughout the borough about the apartheid regime; a regime that imprisoned and tortured Siya.
Siya said: “I am crying tears of sadness and yet also tears of joy. Joy for our father who brought us freedom. Joy for a man who gave us hope and a hope that still burns brightly in us all.
“We all walk in his shadow and all hope for a world in which ill-health, war and poverty can one day be history.
“I an about to walk into the South African High Commission and know we will all have sadness but also we will sing for Madiba.”
Thurrock businessman, Kent Rhodes also paid his own personal tribute. He said: “R.I.P Nelson Mandela – tata Madiba. So much we have learnt through your leadership.
“I am a proud South African who is sad for our loss but so grateful for your wisdom and the choices you made for yourself and our nation that positively affected my life. There are so many lessons we can take from your teachings.
“My top learning/inspiration from you is, don’t play small be prepared to be brilliant and realise the full potential of the life you can live. The greatest way we as South Africans can truly show our respect is to live more of the values and ideals you taught and stood for.
“I’d like to thank you for positively effecting my life even though you have never met me. You inspire me to want to do the same for others in the way I live my life.
“You have been a gift to us all. Thank you for choosing to give and lead us to do the same.
Tilbury residents Jan Olley, who came over from Johannesberg four years ago said:
“I am sad the day has come that such a hero of South Africa has passed on… VIVA MADIBA x.
“I am actually sitting having a cry… and hoping that the many dreams Nelson Mandela had for South Africa will come to pass.”
Below is a film of Siya Twani speaking about his experience in the time if apartheid.