As the world mourns the death of the late South African president and anti-apartheid revolutionist Nelson Mandela, his family spoke out Saturday for the first time since his passing.
“We have lost a great man, a son of the soil whose greatness in our family was in the simplicity of his nature in our midst — a caring family leader who made time for all and on that score we will miss him dearly,” a spokesman for the Mandela family read from a statement in Johannesburg.
The Nobel Peace Prize laureate died Thursday at the age of 95. South African authorities are bracing for massive crowds at the official services, which begin with a memorial Tuesday at FNB Stadium. More than 95,000, the stadium’s capacity, are expected. Mandela’s body will not be at Tuesday’s memorial, and will remain in Pretoria, the nation’s capital.
President Barack Obama and former presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton plan to attend part of the services. Former president Jimmy Carter will also travel to South Africa for memorial services as part of The Elders world leaders group, which Mandela first brought together in 2007, ABC reports.
Government officials have declared Sunday a national day of prayer and reflection, while both houses in parliament will have a special two-hour sitting Monday. Mandela’s funeral will be held on Dec. 15 in Qunu, Mandela’s hometown in Eastern Cape Province.
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