Mourners defy heavy rain as Zuma is jeered at Mandela’s memorial service

Johannesburg, South Africa (PANA) – Despite steady rain, thousands of mourners converged at Soweto’s famnous FNB Stadium Tuesday to pay tribute to world statesman, Nelson Mandela, a PANA Correspondent reported from here.

A sea of umbrellas added to the colour as mourners whistled, sang and danced although proceedings at the 80,000-seat venue saw proceedings delayed as the South African President Jacob Zuma and many other current and former heads of state entered.

Zuma, who is reeling from the so-called Nkandlagate scandal after it was established that he spent US$ 20 million of taxpayers' money to refurbish his private residence, was loudly jeered by mourners in the full glare of international guests.

In a marked contrast, Zuma's predecessor, Thabo Mbeki, and Mandela’s predecessor, FR De Klerk – the country’s last white leader, received widespread applause.

In a speech, Zuma’s deputy Cyril Ramaphosa urged the crowd to show restraint and respect Mandela’s legacy.

"We should show the same level of discipline Madiba exuded," said Ramaphosa.

According to the PANA Correspondent, there was a moving moment when Mandela's former wife, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, embraced Graca Machel, the former Mozambican First Lady who married Mandela on his 80th birthday.

Both women were at his bedside when he died last Thursday.

Security is very tight around the venue and several streets around the stadium have been cordoned off.

The South African Government said it had implemented its plan from the 2010 Soccer World Cup final – which was staged at the same venue – for Mandela’s service.

The gathering of world leaders reportedly surpassed that for the funeral of Pope John Paul II eight years ago, which was attended by 70 Heads of State.
-0- PANA CU/VAO 10Dec2013

10 december 2013 12:21:00

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