A funeral cortege bearing Nelson Mandela’s body will travel through the streets of Pretoria for three days ahead of his burial on Sunday, December 15, the South African government says.

It said the cortege will leave a morgue on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday morning to go to the Union Buildings where his body will lie in state.

Mourners are being encouraged to line the route.

Meanwhile, vigils for the former leader are continuing across South Africa.

Hundreds of mourners have gathered outside Mr Mandela’s home in Johannesburg’s northern suburb of Houghton where he died.

Mr Mandela died on Thursday evening aged 95.

On Saturday the government published further details of the 10-day state funeral, saying as many people as possible would be given the opportunity to pay their last respects.

On Tuesday, an official memorial service will be held at the FNB Stadium on the outskirts of Johannesburg.

When the three days of lying in state are over, Mr Mandela’s body will then be flown from an air force base in Pretoria to Qunu in the Eastern Cape for burial.

Qunu is where Mr Mandela grew up and later retired to.

Flags at all official buildings will fly at half mast throughout the period and books of condolence are being circulated across the country and online for people to post tributes, record memories and express their emotions.

Sunday has been designated an official day of prayer and reflection and President Jacob Zuma urged South Africans to to go to stadiums, halls, churches, temples or synagogues.

“We should, while mourning, also sing at the top of our voices, dance and do whatever we want to do, to celebrate the life of this outstanding revolutionary who kept the spirit of freedom alive and led us to a new society. Let us sing for Madiba,” he said, using Mr Mandela’s clan name.

A government statement recalled the former president’s own thoughts when asked how he wished to be remembered.

“It would be very egotistical of me to say how I would like to be remembered,” Mr Mandela said.

“I’d leave that entirely to South Africans. I would just like a simple stone on which is written, ‘Mandela’.”

Tributes to Mr Mandela have come from leaders, celebrities and members of the public around the world.

US President Barack Obama said Mr Mandela “achieved more than could be expected of any man”.

Pope Francis said Mr Mandela had forged “a new South Africa built on the firm foundations of non-violence, reconciliation and truth”.

The former South African leader spent 27 years in jail before becoming the country’s first black president in 1994.

He served a single term before stepping down in 1999.

Mr Mandela was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 along with FW de Klerk, South Africa’s last white president.

He suffered repeated bouts of ill health and since September had been receiving treatment at home for a recurring lung illness.

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1 ndemanga

  1. Lala ngokuthula Mandela dhlozi lakithi. Sizakukhumbula ngazo zonke lezi zinto owasenzela zona kithi lapha. Siyakuthanda. ‘Hamba kahle sihlobo sethu’.

ZIMENE MUMAKONDA

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