Johannesburg, Dec 6 (): Nelson Mandela, the anti-apartheid leader who became South Africa’s first black president, died peacefully at his Johannesburg home on Thursday after a prolonged lung infection, South African President Jacob Zuma said. He was 95.
At a news conference on Thursday, the President made the announcement, saying “we’ve lost our greatest son”. Mandela would receive a full state funeral, Zuma said, ordering flags to be flown at half-mast.
Since June, the country’s presidency has constantly described the condition of Mandela as “critical but stable”. Last month, Mandela’s former wife, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, said he was no longer talking “because of all the tubes that are in his mouth to clear [fluid from] the lungs”.
Mandela has been receiving intensive care from doctors and military since September, when he was discharged from a nearly three month hospital stay for a lung infection.
Recently, Grandson Ndaba told a local broadcaster that Mandela was “not doing well at home in bed”. Mac Maharaj, spokesman for the presidency which is the official channel for updates on Mandela’s health said on the later days his condition was stable but criticality was unchanged.
US president Barack Obama said he considered himself among the “countless millions who drew inspiration from Nelson Mandela’s life”, and the world was unlikely to see the likes of him again.
British Prime Minister David Cameron said that flags would be flown at half-mast at his office at Number 10 Downing Street. In a statement, he said: “Nelson Mandela was a towering figure in our time; a legend in life and now in death – a true global hero.”
UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon hailed Mandela as a “giant for justice” who had inspired freedom movements the world over.
South Africa’s ruling party, the African National Congress (ANC) said South Africa had lost “a colossus, an epitome of humility, equality, justice, peace and hope of millions”.