59 world leaders will attend Mandela memorial or funeral
Ex-president ‘stood for freedom’, Zuma says as South Africa holds day of prayer
Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, ex-wife of former South Africa President Nelson Mandela prays as she attends a service at Bryanston Methodist Church. Photograph: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images
Worshippers take part in a prayer tribute for former South African president Nelson Mandela at the Methodist Church of Southern Africa in the Meadowlands neighborhood of Soweto, Johannesburg. Photograph: Siphiwe Sibeko /Reuters
South African President Jacob Zuma rubs his eyes during a service at Bryanston Methodist Church during a national day of prayer. Photograph: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images
A police officer stands behind fences covered by flowers outside the house where former South African President Nelson Mandela died, in Johannesburg, December. Photograph: Yves Herman/Reuters
Fifty-nine foreign heads of state or government have said so far they will attend either the memorial ceremony or the state funeral of Nelson Mandela in South Africa in the coming week, a foreign ministry spokesman has said.
He said the final number of who would attend either Tuesday’s memorial in Johannesburg or the funeral in Qunu next Sunday would be confirmed in due course.
Earlier today South African president Jacob Zuma said Mandela “ stood for freedom, he fought against those who oppressed others he wanted everyone to be free,” y as he marked a day of prayer and reflection to commemorate the life of late former president .
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He was attending a service at the Bryanston Methodist Church in Johannesburg. Mandela’s former wife Winne Mandela was among those gathered at the Bryanston Methodist church.
South Africans have flocked to houses of worship for a national day of prayer and reflection to honour the former president.
“He stood for freedom, he fought against those who oppressed others he wanted everyone to be free,” Mr Zuma told those gathered. He urged people “not to forget some of values he stood for fought for sacrificed his life for”.
“He has fought against white domination and he has also fought against black domination,” Mr Zuma said.
“When our struggle came to an end he preached and practiced reconciliation to make those who have been fighting to forgive one another and become one nation,” he said.
“He preached and believed that we should live in peace and unity that we should be united as a rainbow nation,” Mr Zuma said.
At the Regina Mundi Church in Soweto, Father Sebastian J. Rossouw described Mr Mandela as “moonlight,” saying he offered a guiding light for South Africa. Hundreds of people attended mass in the small church. “Madiba did not doubt the light,” Mr Rossouw said. “He paved the way for a better future, but he cannot do it alone.”
Mr Zuma yesterday reiterated a call to all to go to stadiums, halls, churches, temples or synagogues today, to celebrate Mandela’s life, and through his memory, the lives of all other South Africans who opposed colonialism and apartheid, black and white.
“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,” he said.
Mandela’s body is being prepared to lie in state at the Union Buildings in Pretoria next week, where untold thousands of people are expected to come and bid the anti-apartheid icon a final farewell.
Minister in the Presidency Collins Chabane said yesterday that access to the official state events surrounding Mr Mandela’s send-off would be controlled by security forces, but that it is hoped as many people as possible will be accommodated.