15 December 2013
Today, we bid a final farewell to our beloved Tata Madiba, Founding President of a democratic South Africa, an icon of humanity and an embodiment of a life guided by principle and integrity.
We once again express our gratitude and heartfelt appreciation to the Mandela family for sharing Mandela Rolihlahla Mandela with the nation and the world during his life and in his death.
We thank you for your generosity and graciousness in allowing hundreds of thousands of ordinary South Africans to be part of a range of memorial events that were open to public participation.
Our people and the international community alike, joined hands with the family outside Madiba’s home in Houghton; at the National Memorial Service at FNB Stadium; during three days of our Founding President lying in state at the seat of government, the Union Buildings; along the streets of Pretoria as the cortege made its way to the Union Buildings each day; at Air Force Base Waterkloof, and on the memorial route from Mthatha Airport to the family farm at Qunu.
South Africans who could not be at these events shared in these momentous events by setting up their own tribute sites and shrines to Madiba at various points around the country, signing books of condolences, posting their sentiments on social media and turning out in large numbers last Sunday for the national day of prayer and reflection.
Some businesses responded by closing their doors today or donating profits of today’s trading to the former President’s charitable causes.
People abandoned their routines to travel great distances or spend many hours in long queues to be part of the critical events over the past 10 days.
None of this was considered an inconvenience, though, because we knew that Madiba had endured being deprived of personal freedom and a family life so that we could have the South Africa we have today.
The cause of South Africa’s liberation inspired an international campaign, and after we attained a long-fought for freedom and democracy in 1994, President Mandela led our reintegration into the international community.
In our nation’s hour of mourning, the international solidarity we have known and shared with thousands of people throughout the world, resulted in an unprecedented flow of Heads of State and Government, leaders of international organisations and eminent persons into our country. They carried the thoughts and prayers of millions of their people.
In his passing, as in his life, President Mandela united humanity, transcended difference, embraced diversity and focused the attention of the world on the best of humanity, not its failings or shortcomings.
Therefore, we thank the international community who were at our side this week, whether in person in South Africa, or at memorial gatherings in all corners of the globe. We wish our international guests a safe return to their respective countries after spending this special time with us.
We also say thank you to the tens of thousands of officials across the Public Service – more especially in the armed forces - who worked tirelessly this week to stage the first State Funeral our country has seen since our democracy.
This is the kind of service President Mandela demanded and expected of the Public Service in a democratic South Africa.
We also thank members of the media for working with us so constructively and patiently in the past few days and for ensuring that images and text of this historic occasion reached billions of people worldwide. We further thank you for helping us tell this remarkable South African story.
There are no tributes that can adequately compensate for Madiba’s selfless devotion and focused determination to achieve a free and democratic South Africa.
The government and people of South Africa, offers our love and support to the Mandela family, and pray that while you will be comforted by the mass outpouring of grief within and beyond South Africa, you will now have the time and privacy to make peace with Tata Madiba’s departure.
We have come to the end of an extraordinary 10 days of mourning.
As a nation and as government, we approach this not as the end of an era but the continuation of one in which we continue to strive to build a non-racial, non-sexist and a prosperous South Africa.
Madiba’s values and ideals must guide us as a nation as we contemplate a South Africa without his towering presence.
We will continue to draw lessons from Madiba’s very rich and extraordinary life and continue with his legacy.
May our sorrow make way for the hope he brought to our country and the world.
For that, we say: Thank You, Madiba. Rest in peace.
Phumla Williams, Acting-Cabinet Spokesperson
Contact: 083 501 0139
Issued by Government Communication and Information System (GCIS)