Johannesburg, Dec 6 (IANS)
South Africa’s first black president and anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela has died, President Jacob Zuma announced here late Thursday. The Nobel laureate was 95.
Mandela had been receiving intense home-based medical care for a lung infection after three months in hospital. He led South Africa’s transition from white-minority rule in the 1990s, after having spent 27 years in prison, BBC reported.
In a statement on South African national TV, Zuma said Mandela had “departed” and was at peace. “Our nation has lost its greatest son.”
Mandela would receive a full state funeral, and flags would be flown at half-mast, the president added.
According to BBC, Mandela’s body will be moved to a mortuary in Pretoria, and the funeral is likely to take place next Saturday.
The Nobel Peace Prize winner was one of the world’s most revered statesmen. He 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
“What made Nelson Mandela great was precisely what made him human. We saw in him what we seek in ourselves,” Zuma said. “Fellow South Africans, Nelson Mandela brought us together and it is together that we will bid him farewell.”
South Africa is witnessing an outpouring of emotion as news of former president Nelson Mandela’s passing away has spread.
Madiba, the father of the nation, passed away at 8.50 p.m. at his home in Houghton, Johannesburg Thursday.
As President Jacob Zuma made the announcement during a live televised address, the nation stood still in silence.
Special broadcasts have been airing on radio and television and news websites have begun paying tribute to “Madiba”, as Mandela was affectionately called by his clan name, sanews.gov.za reported.
Condolences have begun to pour in from all corners of the world, especially on social media networks.