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PRETORIA, December 06, 3:03 /ITAR-TASS/. South Africa’s former President Nelson Mandela has died at the age of 95, President Jacob Zuma said on Friday, December 6.
Mandela died in his home outside Johannesburg on Thursday, December 5. “He passed on peacefully in the company of his family around 20h50 on the 5th of December 2013,” Zuma said. “Our nation has lost its greatest son. Our people have lost a father.”
Zuma paid tribute to Mandela’s “tireless struggle” for freedom that had earned him the respect of the world. “His humility, his compassion, and his humanity earned him their love. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Mandela family. To them we owe a debt of gratitude,” he said. “They have sacrificed much and endured much so that our people could be free.”
The president said Mandela would be accorded a state funeral and ordered that all flags of the Republic of South Africa be lowered to half-mast from December 6 and to remain at half-mast until after the funeral.
Nobel Peace Prize winner, Mandela was taken to hospital on June 8 with a lung infection, which could be an echo of the tuberculosis he had suffered from during his 27-year imprisonment. He left the hospital on September 1.
Mandela made his last public appearance at the FIFA World Cup in South Africa in 2010.
In 1993, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and a year later became South Africa’s first black president. He held office until 1999.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he was “profoundly saddened” by the news of Mandela’s death. “Nelson Mandela was a singular figure on the global stage -- a man of quiet dignity and towering achievement, a giant for justice and a down-to-earth human inspiration,” Ban said in his remarks.
He noted that many people around the world were “greatly influenced by Mandela’s selfless struggle for human dignity, equality and freedom... He touched our lives in deeply personal ways. At the same time, no one did more in our time to advance the values and aspirations of the United Nations.”
“Mandela devoted his life to the service of his people and humanity, and he did so at great personal sacrifice. His principled stance and the moral force that underpinned it were decisive in dismantling the system of apartheid,” the Secretary-General said.
He recalled that Mandela had emerged from 27 years of detention without rancour, “determined to build a new South Africa based on dialogue and understanding.”
“In the decades-long fight against apartheid, the United Nations stood side-by-side with Nelson Mandela and all those in South Africa who faced unrelenting racism and discrimination. His 1994 address to the General Assembly as the first democratically elected President of a free South Africa was a defining moment. The Assembly has declared 18 July, his birthday, ‘Nelson Mandela International Day,’ an annual observance on which we recognise and seek to build on his contributions to promoting a culture of peace and freedom around the world,’ Ban said.
Recalling his last meeting with Mandela in 2009, Ban said he had “thanked him for his life’s work, he insisted the credit belonged to others. I was very moved by his selflessness and deep sense of shared purpose.”
“Nelson Mandela showed what is possible for our world and within each one of us -- if we believe, dream and work together,” the Secretary-General concluded.