Mandela’s family makes first statement after his death


Nelson Mandela’s family has given a first public statement since his death, describing the difficulty of the past two days and the week ahead.

“The pillar of our family is gone,” family spokesman Lt Gen Themba Matanzima said, “but in our hearts and souls he will always be with us”.

Vigils have continued in South Africa.

South Africans paid their respects in towns and cities across the country on Saturday, but the focal points for public remembrance were the house in Houghton and his old home in Soweto.

Mourners gathered in their hundreds, lighting candles and laying thousands of wreaths of flowers.

Lt Gen Matanzima likened the late president to a baobab tree that had provided shade and protection to the Mandela family.

“Yes, it has not been easy for the last two days and it won’t be pleasant for the days to come,” the family statement said. “But with the support we are receiving from here and beyond and in due time all will be well for the family.”

Announcing further details of the state funeral arrangements, the government said that the late president’s body was being prepared by the military health service before it lay in state.

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