Mandela remembered by family, as stadium memorial service is planned

Family speak for first time since his death.
  • @oscarquine

In their first statement since his death, the family of Nelson Mandela has mourned the passing of: "a great man, a son of the soil."

Lieutenant General Temba Templeton Matanzima, acting as a spokesman for the Mandela family, read a statement to journalists in Johannesburg stating that it had "not been easy for the last few days" since the 95-year-old died at home on Thursday.

"The pillar of the family is gone, just as he was away during that 27 painful years of imprisonment, but in our hearts and souls he will always be with us, his spirit endures," he said.

"As a family we commit ourselves to uphold and be guided by the values he lived for and was prepared to die for.

"As a family we learned from him to appreciate the values that made him the leader that was recognised by all.

"Chief among these is the lesson that a life lived for others is a life well-lived."

Meanwhile, fans at football stadiums across Britain staged minutes of applause in his honour. The first Premier League game of the day, Manchester United's home defeat to Newcastle United, began with clapping and cheers from the crowd. The Scottish Professional Football League and the Football League also encouraged similar tributes.

Downing Street confirmed that David Cameron has written to South Africa's president Jacob Zuma and Mr Mandela's widow Graca Machel expressing his condolences.

"The PM paid tribute to Mandela's extraordinary grace and dignity and the example that he set not just to South Africa but to the world on his release from Robben Island, saying 'he gave the world new hope that the deepest wounds can be healed and that freedom and reconciliation can triumph over division and hate'," a spokeswoman said.

"The PM concluded: 'He will forever have a distinguished place in history. It falls to all of us and future generations to learn from him and try to realise his extraordinary legacy'."

The former South African leader will be remembered in two separate major services. On Tuesday, a memorial will be held at the 95,000-capacity FNB Stadium on the edge of Soweto. The Minister in the Presidency Collins Chabane said today he expects crowds far in excess of the stadium's capacity.

A funeral service on December 15th is currently being planned by Mandela's family, in conjunction with the federal government, the military and the African National Congress political party. Despite some prior planning by authorities as Mandela grew frail and suffered bouts of hospitalization in recent years, many of the details remain up in the air. 

It's unclear which ceremony world leaders will attend, either Tuesday's stadium memorial or the planned funeral service Dec. 15 in Qunu, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate's rural hometown in Eastern Cape Province.

Read more:

South Africa and the rest of the world mourns loss of Nelson Mandela

Commemorative e-book celebrating the life of Nelson Mandela

Hannah McNeish: 'Nelson Mandela set us free...  His death is a test, to make  us stronger’

Amol Rajan: I’d just finished DJ’ing as news broke of Nelson Mandela's death. That gave us 90 minutes...