Amid shouts of "we love you" from the crowd that thronged the road and hung from office block windows, the 89-year-old former South African president and his third wife, Graca Machel, made a dame for her own humanitarian work, were visibly moved at the reception.
Despite being supported by a cane, Mr Mandela took to the stage to address the crowd. He said: "We never dreamed we would all be here today. Though this statue is of one man, it should in actual fact symbolise all those who have resisted oppression, especially in my country."
Madlala-Routledge was one of the driving forces behind a plan to extend anti-retroviral treatment to 80 percent of those with AIDS by 2011. This focus is exactly what South Africa’s AIDS program had been lacking. But now Madlala-Routledge has gone, there is a serious danger that the momentum toward this goal will be lost.