Madiba’s final moments

2013-12-08 08:12
A poster outside Nelson Mandela's house in Houghton, in Johannesburg. (GCIS, Sapa)

A poster outside Nelson Mandela's house in Houghton, in Johannesburg. (GCIS, Sapa)

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Johannesburg - Former president Nelson Mandela’s final moments were with close family members. At the time of his death he was not on life support but breathing on his own.

According to the Sunday Times, his wife Graca Machel, his former wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, daughter Makaziwe and grandson Mandla had been by his side when he died at his Houghton home in Johannesburg on Thursday night.

His heir, Mandla, had been called to his grandfather’s bedside on Thursday morning from Mvezo in the Eastern Cape. After President Jacob Zuma had been informed of his death, close family friends and politicians gathered at the house.

They included businessman Patrice Motsepe, Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa, Justice Minister Jeff Radebe, Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapis-Nqakula, and Dali Tambo, son of the late ANC leader Oliver Tambo, among others.

The ANC’s chaplain-general Rev Vukile Mahana, Bishop Malusi Mpumlwana of the Ethiopian Episcopal Church and Rev Frank Chikane comforted the family and led them all in prayer. Zuma arrived soon after and made his announcement.

At about midnight, the military arrived to collect Mandela’s body. Director-general in the Presidency Dr Cassius Lubisi oversaw the handover, along with the head of Mandela’s medical team, Dr Zola Dabula and the former South African National Defence Force surgeon-general Vejay Ramlakhan.

Mandela’s body left the house in a casket covered with the South African flag. As he was carried out, Mandla sang out in praise with the words “Aah Dalibunga”.


Mandela, who was elected South Africa's first black president after spending nearly three decades in prison, had been receiving treatment for a lung infection at his Johannesburg home since September, after three months in hospital in a critical state.

His condition deteriorated and he died following complications from the lung infection.

The news was announced by a clearly emotional President Jacob Zuma live on television, who said Mandela had "departed" and was at peace.

"Our nation has lost its greatest son," said Zuma.

"What made Nelson Mandela great is precisely what made him human," he said.

Mandela, once a boxer, had a long history of lung problems after contracting tuberculosis while in jail on Robben Island.

His extraordinary life story, quirky sense of humour and lack of bitterness towards his former oppressors ensured global appeal for the charismatic leader.

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