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Nelson Mandela death: South Africa and world mourn

Friday 6 December 2013

South Africans have gathered in Johannesburg and Soweto to mourn their former leader, Nelson Mandela, who died on Thursday aged 95.

Crowds have been paying tribute, dancing and singing in front of Mr Mandela’s former home in Soweto.

He is to be accorded a state funeral on Sunday 15 December, President Jacob Zuma announced.

Mr Mandela spent 27 years in jail before becoming South Africa’s first black president in 1994.

His administration replaced the racist white-minority regime that had enforced segregation of black and white people in a policy known as apartheid.

Mr Mandela went on to become one of the world’s most respected statesmen.

At a news conference on Friday afternoon, Mr Zuma outlined a week of events to mourn the former president Sunday will be an official day of prayer and reflection with special religious services

On Tuesday, a service of national mourning will be held at a 95,000-seater stadium on the outskirts of Johannesburg Mr Mandela’s body will lie in state from Wednesday to Friday in the capital, Pretoria

The funeral will be held in the village of Qunu in the Eastern Cape, where Mr Mandela grew up.

Criticism

"We sincerely thank all South Africans for the dignified manner in which they have respected and responded to the monumental loss of this international icon who was a symbol of reconciliation, unity, love, human rights and justice in our country and the world," Mr Zuma said.

Speaking in Cape Town, Mr Mandela’s long-time ally, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, described him as an "incredible gift" to South Africa. "He taught us extraordinarily practical lessons about forgiveness, compassion and reconciliation."

He also cited Mr Mandela’s weaknesses, including "his steadfast loyalty to his organisation and some of his colleagues who ultimately let him down".

Mr Mandela had been suffering from a lung illness for a long time.

He had been receiving treatment at home since September, when he was discharged from hospital.

As soon as the news broke, small crowds began to gather in Soweto’s Vilakazi Street, where Mr Mandela lived in the 1940s and 1950s.

Crowds also gathered outside Mr Mandela’s current home, in Johannesburg’s northern suburb of Houghton, where he died.

President Zuma visited the house in the early afternoon to pay his respects. Across the world, leaders, celebrities and members of the public have been paying tribute.

Pope Francis said he had forged "a new South Africa built on the firm foundations of non-violence, reconciliation and truth.

Queen Elizabeth II said she was "deeply saddened" to learn of Mr Mandela’s death.

"Her Majesty remembers with great warmth her meetings with Mr. Mandela and sends her sincere condolences to his family and the people of South Africa at this very sad time," a statement issued by Buckingham Palace said.

"He achieved more than could be expected of any man. Today, he has gone home," said US President Barack Obama.

Flags are flying at half-mast on government buildings in Washington DC, Paris and across South Africa. The European Union and world football body Fifa have also ordered their flags to be lowered.

The parliament in Pretoria is expected to hold a special joint session to reflect on Mr Mandela’s life and legacy.

The BBC’s Mike Wooldridge in Johannesburg says South Africa will never have seen a state funeral like it, with leaders, dignitaries and other admirers of the former president expected from all over the world.

It will be a huge logistical challenge, especially given the remoteness of Qunu, our correspondent adds.

Mr Mandela died shortly before 21:00 local time (19:00 GMT). on Thursday.

He won admiration around the world when he preached reconciliation after being freed from almost three decades of imprisonment.

He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 along with FW de Klerk, South Africa’s last white president.

Mr de Klerk, who ordered Mr Mandela’s release from jail, called him a "unifier" and said he had "a remarkable lack of bitterness".

Mr Mandela had rarely been seen in public since officially retiring in 2004. He made his last public appearance in 2010, at the football World Cup in South Africa.

Roving diplomat

Born in 1918, Nelson Mandela joined the African National Congress (ANC) in 1943, as a law student.

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