FORMER President Nelson Mandela was buried in Qunu, Eastern Cape, around 12.40pm yesterday.
The coffin of the former president was laid over his grave and the South African flag that was draped over the coffin was folded by several soldiers.
A prayer was made at the graveside.
A slow-marching army procession escorted the coffin before the gun carriage came to a halt and the straps the securing coffin were removed. Soldiers tilted the coffin slightly and gently eased it off of the gun carriage.
It was then taken up by eight military pall bearers, who pushed the coffin on a trolley towards the grave site, as muffled drums played in the background. The coffin laid at the burial site, flanked by banks of white flowers.
As selected guests made their way to the cemetery in Qunu where Nelson Mandela will be buried, many of those left behind took photographs of themselves besides the stage where tributes were delivered on Sunday. Only about 450 of the approximately 5 000 guests who attended the funeral service in a large tent had been invited to the burial.
Due to space constraints and to allow some privacy, the rest had been asked to remain behind at the service venue and watch proceedings on a large screen.
They posed for pictures next to the stage which was flanked by two rows of white pillar candles and a large portrait of Mandela. Others mingled and chatted as they waited for the burial to begin. Earlier tributes were given by, amongst others President Jacob Zuma, Malawian President Joyce Banda and friends and family of the Mandelas.
Many watching the burial of Mandela from an arena in Qunu filmed the proceedings off the large screens there.
The former president’s burial marks the end of a 10-day mourning period for the country.
Thanks for sharing Mandela - Zuma
President Jacob Zuma thanked former president Nelson Mandela's family for sharing him with South Africa and the world.
“We acknowledge the suffering of your own children who had an absent father and a father who was called a dangerous man and a terrorist by the apartheid regime,” Zuma said at Mandela’s state funeral in Qunu, in the Eastern Cape.
“They are no doubt truly proud today to be brought to this planet by a man so great and yet so humble.”
Zuma thanked Mandela's first wife Evelyn Mase, who died in 2004, for raising Mandela's children under difficult conditions.
The biggest praise went to Mandela's ex-wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.
The crowd at the funeral applauded when Zuma acknowledged Madikizela-Mandela as the person who had kept Mandela's name alive and provided support and strength.
“When the ANC was banned, she refused to be silent and carried on the struggle with amazing bravery,” he said.
“She was persecuted severely for standing by you [Mandela] and for remaining resolute. We are proud of the contribution that she has made to the struggle for the liberation of the country as an activist and leader in her own name and right.”
Zuma also thanked Mandela's widow Graca Machel.
“We thank your dear wife Mama Graca Machel, who has been at your side providing love,” said Zuma.
Light moment on a solemn day
Guests at the state funeral of Nelson Mandela in Qunu in the Eastern Cape laughed as his granddaughter reminisced about the former president's mischievous nature yesterday.
The loudest giggles were heard when Nandi Mandela recounted the infamous chicken-courting story.
It was about the embarrassment of a young Mandela when he couldn’t get a piece of chicken onto his fork during a dinner in which he was trying to impress a love interest.
He insisted that the chicken had danced away.
The audience was attentive and responsive as Nandi's stories wove a more intimate and personal portrait of the former president.
Before Nandi spoke, her cousin, Ndaba, commandingly read through an obituary of their grandfather.
However, there was a reprieve from some of the solemnity of the occasion, when Nandi later told the guests that Mandela used to make Ndaba pick up his clothes when he left them carelessly around when he was a child.
Ramaphosa thanks SA
for Mandela's send-off
ANC Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa yesterday thanked South Africa for giving former president Nelson Mandela a ‘dignified send off’.
Speaking at Mandela's funeral service in Qunu, Eastern Cape, he said it was the first time that the country had buried a person of Mandela's stature.
“Many mistakes were made... Many things were done correctly,” he said. United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa gave a vote of thanks at the state funeral of Mandela.
He thanked the government, various departments, leaders and all those who had helped Mandela.
“I wish to extend on behalf of the family, plus the king of Thembus, the warmest thanks,” said Holomisa, who was a close friend of Mandela.
“The leaders who shared this stage today, thank you for being here. Your words inspired us and warmed our hearts.”
He thanked former president Thabo Mbeki, who advised the Mandela family to be a part of planning committees when Mandela fell ill.
Holomisa thanked his former party, the African National Congress.
“The chapter of South Africa’s history [regarding ANC’s part in the struggle] will never be forgotten.”
British actor Idris Elba was among the dignitaries who attended the funeral of the former president Nelson Mandela in Qunu, in the Eastern Cape, yesterday.
Elba played the character of Mandela in the movie recently released about his life.
Ramaphosa, who was also the funeral programme director said Elba had been nominated for an award for his portrayal of Mandela in the movie, titled Nelson Mandela: A Long Walk to Freedom.
Talk-show host Oprah Winfrey and US actor Forest Whitaker were also among the dignitaries.
Banda gets a standing ovation
Malawian President Joyce Banda received a standing ovation when she spoke about her position as a woman president at former president Nelson Mandela's state funeral in Qunu, in the Eastern Cape yesterday.
Many women in the audience shouted “Yes, yes” when Banda spoke about her presidency.
Banda was amazed by former president Nelson Mandela's humility and leadership, she said yesterday.
“The first time I was previleged to meet president Mandela was during his visit to Malawi... shortly after he was released from prison,” she told mourners at his state funeral in Qunu, in the Eastern Cape.
“I was amazed by his humility and his great sense of leadership... Mandela's character has shaped my life.”
Banda said after visiting Robben Island in 1996, she had tried to find every book she could about Mandela.
“I was further touched by his life and the story of Tata Mandela. I read and read everything.”
Banda, who is also Southern African Development Community chairwoman, said she was honoured to be able to pay tribute to Mandela.
“I join you, people of this rainbow nation, to celebrate a life of one of Africa's greatest leaders.
“I stand before you to join you, the people of South Africa and the world to mourn the loss of a great leader,” she said.
The audience cheered when Banda paid tribute to Mandela's ex-wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and his widow Graca Machel.
Winnie makes playful dig at Zuma
Winnie Madikizela-Mandela's sombre mood lifted for a moment when a joke was made about a faux pas by President Jacob Zuma during Nelson Mandela’s state funeral in Qunu yesterday.
After Malawian President Joyce Banda spoke, African National Congress Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa thanked her, reiterating that she was from "Malawi. Yes, Malawi”.
At this, the audience laughed and some waved ANC flags.
In October, Zuma unfavourably compared Malawi's national roads with those of South Africa while trying to justify the Gauteng e-tolling system.
Madikizela-Mandela smiled and playfully poked Zuma in the side as he sat next to her. He chuckled.
Ramaphosa told the audience there was a running joke in the ANC: “President, you don’t say Malawi. Deputy President, you don't say boers.”
At the time of the gaffe, Zuma told a Gauteng ANC manifesto forum: “We can't think like Africans, in Africa, generally. We are in Johannesburg, this is Johannesburg. It's not some national road in Malawi.”
Ramaphosa was berated when, last month, he told Limpopo residents to vote or else the ‘boers’ would take over power. He later claimed the term had been misunderstood.
US television personality Oprah Winfrey, her partner Stedman Graham and business mogul Richard Branson were seen seated together at the funeral service.