Kathrada recalls his last moments with Mandela

Qunu, South Africa (PANA) - In an emotional tribute to global icon Nelson Mandela, his long-time friend and fellow prisoner Ahmed Kathrada on Sunday said he had lost a brother and a mentor.

"When (liberation hero) Walter Sisulu died I lost a father, and now I have lost a brother. I don't know who to turn to," PANA quoted him as saying at Mandela's state funeral in Qunu, in the Eastern Cape.

Fighting back tears, Kathrada recalled how he had seen Mandela in hospital for the last time a few months ago and how shocked he was by his deterioration.

"What I saw in hospital was a man helpless and reduced to a shadow of himself, and now the inevitable has happened.

Earlier, African National Congress (ANC) official Baleka Mbete said the world has lost a giant.

“We cast our eye collectively back on an unprecedented week of outpouring of our river of tears. He leaves us with a new Constitution, a set of laws, institutions, policies, a developing human rights ethos, a developing culture of transparency, mutual respect and democracy,” she said.

An estimated 5,000 mourners and a global television audience of hundreds of millions are watching Mandela’s extraordinary journey draw to a close y.  

In a giant marquee in the foothills of the Eastern Cape, where he was raised shortly after the First World War, the world is paying homage to South Africa’s first democratically-elected leader, to Africa’s greatest son and to the world’s moral beacon.  

Mandela's widow Graca Machel and ex-wife Winnie Madikizela Mandela are among the dignitaries who included talk show host Oprah Winfrey, US civil rights leader Jesse Jackson and Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu.  

Tutu had earlier said he would not attend the funeral because he had not been invited, but government pointed out that nobody was invited and the clergyman had been accredited.

The week-long observances will culminate later on Sunday when Mandela will be buried at a private ceremony at his family home nearby.

After a long battle with a recurring lung infection, Mandela died at his Johannesburg home 5 Dec. at the age of 95
-0- PANA CU/SEG 15Dec2013

15 december 2013 08:32:32

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