President Jacob Zuma has announced the funeral plans for Nelson Mandela, who died on December 5.
The official memorial service for the departed icon will be held on December 10 at the FNB Stadium in Johannesburg, President Jacob Zuma said on Friday afternoon.
Speaking to a number of journalists at the SABC, Zuma gave a short tribute to the country’s first elected black president who died at 8.50pm on Thursday after a long health struggle, at the age of 95.
Hid body will lie in state from December 11 to 13, at the Union Buildings in Pretoria, Zuma said, adding that the buildings are “where he served as the first president”.
“During these days, official memorial services will also be held in all provinces and regions,” he said.
Zuma reiterated that Mandela would have a state funeral and would finally be laid to rest on the December 15 in Qunu in Eastern Cape.
Minister in the presidency Collins Chabane later said that more details about official arrangements, including those for visiting foreign dignitaries, would be clarified at a later stage.
A tired and wan Zuma, dressed in a blue striped shirt and grey blazer, sat on the stage before a banner in the ANC’s yellow and green colours’ bidding “hamba kahle” to Madiba.
The stage was earlier festooned with election campaign material for the ANC, but these were covered by a neutral government communications banner for the announcement.
Zuma looked far more drawn than he appeared in his speech announcing Mandela’s death broadcast on television on Thursday, where he spoke simply, clearly and powerfully in what some commentators say was one of his best speaking moments.
On Friday afternoon after a long day, he spoke slowly and quietly.
“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,” he said.
He reminded the audience that Sunday December 8 would be reserved as a national day of prayer and reflection for Mandela.
‘We should all work together’
“We should all work together to organise the most befitting funeral for this outstanding son of our country and the father of our young nation,” he said. “We call upon all our people to gather in halls, churches, mosques, temples, synagogues and in their homes to pray and hold prayer services and meditation reflecting on the life of Madiba and his contribution to our country and the world.”
Zuma had earlier visited Mandela’s home in Houghton, Johannesburg where the former president passed away, to pay his respects to the Mandela family.
Addressing the media at the SABC Zuma said the number of tributes pouring in internationally was a testament to Mandela’s calibre of leadership.
“We’ll always love Madiba for teaching us that it is possible to overcome hatred and anger in order to build a new nation and a new society,” he finished. “We spend the week mourning his passing. We’ll also spend it celebrating a life well lived, a life that we must all emulate for the betterment of our country and Africa.
“Long live Madiba.”