South Africans participate in 'Day of Prayer and Reflection' for Mandela

Johannesburg, South Africa (PANA) - South Africans are on Sunday participating in a Day of Prayer and Reflection for late former President and anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela as the week-long official funeral programme leading to his burial on 14 December begins.

Key political and religious leaders, including President Jacob Zuma, former President Thabo Mbeki and leaders of the African National Congress (ANC), will attend multi-faith services in various parts of the country as the outpouring of grief following last Thursday’s passing of Mr. Mandela continues.

President Zuma has urged his countrymen to remember Mr. Mandela in stadiums, temples, churches, halls or synagogues on Sunday.

Thousands of people of all races and colour, children and the elderly have been on the streets since Thursday night to celebrate the life of the anti-apartheid stalwart and icon.

His family has thanked South Africans for sympathy they have expressed on the death of Mr. Mandela.

Huge crowds, including children and the elderly, have continued to pray, sing, dance across the country as they remember the man, whose fearlessness contributed immensely to end the obnoxious apartheid policy.

They have streamed endlessly to his former home in Soweto as they extol his virtues of humility, honesty, spirit of forgiveness and unprecedented show of love.

They have gone to his Johannesburg home where he died peacefully, aged 95, after a long illness, to pray and lay flowers.

All flags are flying at half mast in the country until after the funeral.

Various world leaders have said in unison that the world has lost a true statesman, a leader and a pragmatic visionary with the passing of Mandela.

A huge presence of world leaders and important personalities is expected in South Africa to attend the funeral of Mr. Mandela.

According to the official funeral programme announced by President Zuma, Mr. Mandela will on Sunday 15 December be given a state funeral and laid to rest in his village of Qunu in the Eastern Cape, where he grew up.

On Sunday 8 December, an official day of prayer and special religious services would be held while on Tuesday 10 December, a service of national mourning would be held at a sports stadium in Johannesburg.

The body will lie in state from Wednesday 11 December to Friday 13 December in Pretoria before burial on Sunday.

The remains of global icon Nelson Mandela are being prepared to lie in state at the Union Buildings in Pretoria next week.

Collins Chabane, Minister in the Presidency, on Saturday said the military health service of the South African National Defence Force, which was responsible for keeping him in critical but a stable condition for so long, was preparing the body.

It is undecided whether the casket will be open for public viewing, but cameras will be prohibited.

There will be a public procession through the streets of the capital city, Pretoria, on each day that Mandela's remains are transported between 1 Military Hospital and the Union Buildings.

The body will then be flown to his birthplace of Qunu in the Eastern Cape for next Sunday’s burial.

Chabane confirmed that preparations for the official memorial service at the FNB Stadium in Soweto on Tuesday were well on track.

Mr. Mandela died at his Johannesburg home on Thursday night surrounded by family. He became the first black president of South Africa in 1994.

The iconic leader, fondly called Madiba, had been receiving treatment at home for a lung infection after spending three months in hospital.

President Zuma made the official announcement of his death in a statement on South Africa’s national television.

Mandela is regarded as one of the greatest statesmen of our time after he reconciled with the white minority rulers who jailed him for 27 years.

Mandela was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993. He stepped down after only one five-year term although constitutionally he was allowed a second term.

Mandela was born in 1918. He joined the African National Congress in 1943. In 1956 he was charged with high treason, but charges were dropped after a four-year trial only to be re-arrested and convicted of incitement and leaving country without a passport.

He was sentenced to five years in prison in 1962 before finally being sentenced to serve a life sentence.

He was released in 1990.
-0- PANA MA 8Dec2013

08 december 2013 05:38:15

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