South Africa mourns Mandela amid racial tensions fears

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South Africans are taking in a future without Nelson Mandela after the death of the country’s first black president who led the struggle against apartheid.

More and more people have been gathering at the family home in Johannesburg where he died in the company of his family after a long illness. He was 95.

Earlier this year he had spent months in hospital with a lung infection.

The origins of Mandela’s illness dated back to the 27 years he spent in apartheid jails.

The announcement of his death was made by the country’s current president late on Thursday night.

“Fellow South Africans, our beloved Nelson Rohlihla Mandela, the founding President of our democratic nation has departed. He passed on peacefully in the company of his family around 20.50 on the 5th of December,” Jacob Zuma said.

All night people gathered in the streets to share the news and celebrate the life of the man who oversaw the end of white minority rule and symbolised reconciliation and peaceful co-existence.

“I’m sad but at the same time I think he’s had his part in life and he did it very well and it’s fine that he goes. He did all he could. He was old, you know,” said a young black woman, holding a child as she fought back tears.

“It’s tragic, it’s sad. But at the same time I think we should celebrate what he has achieved and what he has given us. I wouldn’t be free if it wasn’t for him,” a man added.

From prisoner to world statesman, Mandela’s death enables South Africans to take stock of the decades of momentous change he did so much to bring about.

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