Zuma thanks Niall Mellon and Irish volunteers for charity's housing blitz
South Africa delivered a resounding thank you to Niall Mellon and 600 Irish volunteers on the charity’s final housing blitz here, when President Jacob Zuma paid an impromptu visit to the building site in Wallacedene.
Arriving in the desperately poor township, where there were five murders last week, his fleet of BMWs and police vehicles disgorged a dozen stony personal security staff and heavily armed police to shield the president from cheering residents, barking dogs and Irish volunteers still working on the site. The president chatted to Niall Mellon before ceremoniously handing over the keys of a new house to the father of a young family.
From there, he was whisked to Enkululekweni primary school and its airy, adjoining hall – built two years ago by the Niall Mellon Township Trust – where the Irish volunteers had assembled. “There couldn’t be a better time for all of us to have this time with you,” Mr Mellon said, giving him a potted history of the charity, acknowledging the government’s commitment to housing, and noting that the two countries shared a common history, where both had been oppressed and faced a great struggle to create a future for their people.
Addressing Mr Mellon as “the good brother who initiated this great movement”, when told that 50 per cent of the charity’s volunteers were South African, he said: “I was going to say, let’s try to establish this movement in South Africa. Now if South Africans are a part of it, what else do we want?”