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Updated: 12/08/2013 01:19:00AM

Massive crowds, world leaders to honor Mandela

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A photo of former South African president, late Nelson Mandela, right, is displayed during a remembrance ceremony in Qunu, South Africa, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013. Mandela, 95, anti-apartheid icon and former South African president, has died. The Nobel Peace Prize winner's death was announced by South African President Jacob Zuma on Thursday. (AP Photo/Schalk van Zuydam)

A photo of former South African president Nelson Mandela, right, during a remembrance ceremony in Qunu, South Africa, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013. Nelson Mandela, 95, anti-apartheid icon and former South African president, has died. The Nobel Peace Prize winner's death was announced by South African President Jacob Zuma on Thursday.(AP Photo/Schalk van Zuydam)

A photo of former South African president Nelson Mandela, right, during a remembrance ceremony in Qunu, South Africa, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013. Nelson Mandela, 95, anti-apartheid icon and former South African president, has died. The Nobel Peace Prize winner's death was announced by South African President Jacob Zuma on Thursday.(AP Photo/Schalk van Zuydam)

A photo of former South African president Nelson Mandela, right, during a remembrance ceremony in Qunu, South Africa, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013. Nelson Mandela, 95, anti-apartheid icon and former South African president, has died. The Nobel Peace Prize winner's death was announced by South African President Jacob Zuma on Thursday.(AP Photo/Schalk van Zuydam)

A photo of former South African president Nelson Mandela, right, during a remembrance ceremony in Qunu, South Africa, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013. Nelson Mandela, 95, anti-apartheid icon and former South African president, has died. The Nobel Peace Prize winner's death was announced by South African President Jacob Zuma on Thursday.(AP Photo/Schalk van Zuydam)

A photo of former South African president Nelson Mandela, right, during a remembrance ceremony in Qunu, South Africa, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013. Nelson Mandela, 95, anti-apartheid icon and former South African president, has died. The Nobel Peace Prize winner's death was announced by South African President Jacob Zuma on Thursday.(AP Photo/Schalk van Zuydam)

A photo of former South African president Nelson Mandela, right, during a remembrance ceremony in Qunu, South Africa, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013. Nelson Mandela, 95, anti-apartheid icon and former South African president, has died. The Nobel Peace Prize winner's death was announced by South African President Jacob Zuma on Thursday.(AP Photo/Schalk van Zuydam)

A photo of former South African president Nelson Mandela, right, during a remembrance ceremony in Qunu, South Africa, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013. Nelson Mandela, 95, anti-apartheid icon and former South African president, has died. The Nobel Peace Prize winner's death was announced by South African President Jacob Zuma on Thursday.(AP Photo/Schalk van Zuydam)

A man draped in the South African flag holds his daughter as he poses for a picture with a statue of Nelson Mandela at the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory in Johannesburg, South Africa, Saturday Dec. 7, 2013. Flags were lowered to half-staff and people in black townships, in upscale mostly white suburbs and in South Africa's vast rural grasslands commemorated Nelson Mandela with song, tears and prayers on Friday while pledging to adhere to the values of unity and democracy that he embodied. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

Mzwandile Vena sits in front of a photo of the late South African president Nelson Mandela during a remembrance ceremony in Qunu, South Africa, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013. Mandela, 95, anti-apartheid icon and former South African president, has died. The Nobel Peace Prize winner's death was announced by South African President Jacob Zuma on Thursday.(AP Photo/Schalk van Zuydam)

Mzwandile Vena sits in front of a photo of the late South African president Nelson Mandela during a remembrance ceremony in Qunu, South Africa, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013. Mandela, 95, anti-apartheid icon and former South African president, has died. The Nobel Peace Prize winner's death was announced by South African President Jacob Zuma on Thursday.(AP Photo/Schalk van Zuydam)

A child waves goodbye to a statue of Nelson Mandela as other visitors sign the condolence register at the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory in Johannesburg, South Africa, Saturday Dec. 7, 2013. Flags were lowered to half-staff and people in black townships, in upscale mostly white suburbs and in South Africa's vast rural grasslands commemorated Nelson Mandela with song, tears and prayers on Friday while pledging to adhere to the values of unity and democracy that he embodied. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

Visitors take pictures at the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory in Johannesburg, South Africa, Saturday Dec. 7, 2013. Flags were lowered to half-staff and people in black townships, in upscale mostly white suburbs and in South Africa's vast rural grasslands commemorated Nelson Mandela with song, tears and prayers on Friday while pledging to adhere to the values of unity and democracy that he embodied. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

Colorado Avalanche's Gabriel Landeskog, left, from Sweden, takes a hit from Calgary Flames' Jiri Hudler, from Czech Republic, during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Friday, Dec. 6, 2013 in Calgary, Alberta. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Larry MacDougal)

A Kaiser Chiefs soccer fan who was running to a match turns around to show his headwear adorned with picture of Nelson Mandela as he passes outside the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory in Johannesburg, South Africa, Saturday Dec. 7, 2013. Flags were lowered to half-staff and people in black townships, in upscale mostly white suburbs and in South Africa's vast rural grasslands commemorated Nelson Mandela with song, tears and prayers on Friday while pledging to adhere to the values of unity and democracy that he embodied. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

Visitors sign the condolence register next to a statue of Nelson Mandela at the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory in Johannesburg, South Africa, Saturday Dec. 7, 2013. Flags were lowered to half-staff and people in black townships, in upscale mostly white suburbs and in South Africa's vast rural grasslands commemorated Nelson Mandela with song, tears and prayers on Friday while pledging to adhere to the values of unity and democracy that he embodied. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

A mother, her son draped in a flag with the image of Nelson Mandela, and her daughter, sign and make drawings in the condolence register at the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory in Johannesburg, South Africa, Saturday Dec. 7, 2013. Flags were lowered to half-staff and people in black townships, in upscale mostly white suburbs and in South Africa's vast rural grasslands commemorated Nelson Mandela with song, tears and prayers on Friday while pledging to adhere to the values of unity and democracy that he embodied. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

A mother, her son draped in a flag with the image of Nelson Mandela, and her daughter, sign and make drawings in the condolence register at the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory in Johannesburg, South Africa, Saturday Dec. 7, 2013. Flags were lowered to half-staff and people in black townships, in upscale mostly white suburbs and in South Africa's vast rural grasslands commemorated Nelson Mandela with song, tears and prayers on Friday while pledging to adhere to the values of unity and democracy that he embodied. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

A mother, her son draped in a flag with the image of Nelson Mandela, and her daughter, sign and make drawings in the condolence register at the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory in Johannesburg, South Africa, Saturday Dec. 7, 2013. Flags were lowered to half-staff and people in black townships, in upscale mostly white suburbs and in South Africa's vast rural grasslands commemorated Nelson Mandela with song, tears and prayers on Friday while pledging to adhere to the values of unity and democracy that he embodied. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

A mother, her son draped in a flag with the image of Nelson Mandela, and her daughter, sign and make drawings in the condolence register at the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory in Johannesburg, South Africa, Saturday Dec. 7, 2013. Flags were lowered to half-staff and people in black townships, in upscale mostly white suburbs and in South Africa's vast rural grasslands commemorated Nelson Mandela with song, tears and prayers on Friday while pledging to adhere to the values of unity and democracy that he embodied. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

A mother, her son draped in a flag with the image of Nelson Mandela, and her daughter, sign and make drawings in the condolence register at the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory in Johannesburg, South Africa, Saturday Dec. 7, 2013. Flags were lowered to half-staff and people in black townships, in upscale mostly white suburbs and in South Africa's vast rural grasslands commemorated Nelson Mandela with song, tears and prayers on Friday while pledging to adhere to the values of unity and democracy that he embodied. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

A man wears keyrings showing the face of Nelson Mandela taped to his ears to mimic earrings as he and others celebrate his life, in the street outside his old house in Soweto, Johannesburg, South Africa Friday, Dec. 6, 2013. Flags were lowered to half-staff and people in black townships, in upscale mostly white suburbs and in South Africa's vast rural grasslands commemorated Nelson Mandela with song, tears and prayers on Friday while pledging to adhere to the values of unity and democracy that he embodied. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

A man wears keyrings showing the face of Nelson Mandela taped to his ears to mimic earrings as he and others celebrate his life, in the street outside his old house in Soweto, Johannesburg, South Africa Friday, Dec. 6, 2013. Flags were lowered to half-staff and people in black townships, in upscale mostly white suburbs and in South Africa's vast rural grasslands commemorated Nelson Mandela with song, tears and prayers on Friday while pledging to adhere to the values of unity and democracy that he embodied. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

A man wears keyrings showing the face of Nelson Mandela taped to his ears to mimic earrings as he and others celebrate his life, in the street outside his old house in Soweto, Johannesburg, South Africa Friday, Dec. 6, 2013. Flags were lowered to half-staff and people in black townships, in upscale mostly white suburbs and in South Africa's vast rural grasslands commemorated Nelson Mandela with song, tears and prayers on Friday while pledging to adhere to the values of unity and democracy that he embodied. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

The congregation sings songs during a baptism service at the iconic Regina Mundi church, which became one of the focal points of the anti-apartheid struggle, in Soweto, Johannesburg, South Africa Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013. South Africa is readying itself for the arrival of many world leaders for the funeral and memorial services for former president Nelson Mandela as thousands of mourners continue to flock to sites around the country to pay homage to the freedom struggle icon. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

A mourner signs the book of condolences at the iconic Regina Mundi church, which became one of the focal points of the anti-apartheid struggle, in Soweto, Johannesburg, South Africa Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013. South Africa is readying itself for the arrival of a flood of world leaders for the funeral and memorial services for former president Nelson Mandela as thousands of mourners continue to flock to sites around the country to pay homage to the freedom struggle icon. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

Mzwandile Vena, left, looks at a candle lit for the late South African president Nelson Mandela, photo center back, during a remembrance ceremony in Qunu, South Africa, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013. Mandela, 95, anti-apartheid icon and former South African president, has died. The Nobel Peace Prize winner's death was announced by South African President Jacob Zuma on Thursday. (AP Photo/Schalk van Zuydam)

Mzwandile Vena, left, looks at a candle lit for the late South African president Nelson Mandela, photo center back, during a remembrance ceremony in Qunu, South Africa, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013. Mandela, 95, anti-apartheid icon and former South African president, has died. The Nobel Peace Prize winner's death was announced by South African President Jacob Zuma on Thursday. (AP Photo/Schalk van Zuydam)

Workers install a billboard of former president Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg, South Africa, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013. Mandela died Thursday at his Johannesburg home after a long illness. He was 95. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)

Floral tributes to Nelson Mandela outside the South Africa High Commission in London, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013. Mandela passed away Thursday night after a long illness. He was 95. (AP Photo/Sang Tan)

Floral tributes to Nelson Mandela outside the South Africa High Commission in London, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013. Mandela passed away Thursday night after a long illness. He was 95. (AP Photo/Sang Tan)

Floral tributes to Nelson Mandela outside the South Africa High Commission in London, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013. Mandela passed away Thursday night after a long illness. He was 95. (AP Photo/Sang Tan)

Floral tributes to Nelson Mandela outside the South Africa High Commission in London, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013. Mandela passed away Thursday night after a long illness. He was 95. (AP Photo/Sang Tan)

Floral tributes to Nelson Mandela outside the South Africa High Commission in London, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013. Mandela passed away Thursday night after a long illness. He was 95. (AP Photo/Sang Tan)

Floral tributes to Nelson Mandela outside the South Africa High Commission in London, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013. Mandela passed away Thursday night after a long illness. He was 95. (AP Photo/Sang Tan)

A child walks past a mural depicting Nelson Mandela during different stages of his history, on his way to visit a candy shop near to the Regina Mundi church in Soweto, Johannesburg, South Africa Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013. South Africa is readying itself for the arrival of a flood of world leaders for the funeral and memorial services for former president Nelson Mandela as thousands of mourners continue to flock to sites around the country to pay homage to the freedom struggle icon. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

A woman carrying vegetables in a basket on her head walks past a mural depicting Nelson Mandela during different stages of his history, near to the Regina Mundi church in Soweto, Johannesburg, South Africa Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013. South Africa is readying itself for the arrival of a flood of world leaders for the funeral and memorial services for former president Nelson Mandela as thousands of mourners continue to flock to sites around the country to pay homage to the freedom struggle icon. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

A woman carrying vegetables in a basket on her head walks past a mural depicting Nelson Mandela during different stages of his history, near to the Regina Mundi church in Soweto, Johannesburg, South Africa Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013. South Africa is readying itself for the arrival of a flood of world leaders for the funeral and memorial services for former president Nelson Mandela as thousands of mourners continue to flock to sites around the country to pay homage to the freedom struggle icon. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

A child draws in the condolence register on a page where her mother left a message for "Tata" or "Father" Mandela at the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory in Johannesburg, South Africa, Saturday Dec. 7, 2013. Flags were lowered to half-staff and people in black townships, in upscale mostly white suburbs and in South Africa's vast rural grasslands commemorated Nelson Mandela with song, tears and prayers on Friday while pledging to adhere to the values of unity and democracy that he embodied. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

A child draws in the condolence register on a page where her mother left a message for "Tata" or "Father" Mandela at the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory in Johannesburg, South Africa, Saturday Dec. 7, 2013. Flags were lowered to half-staff and people in black townships, in upscale mostly white suburbs and in South Africa's vast rural grasslands commemorated Nelson Mandela with song, tears and prayers on Friday while pledging to adhere to the values of unity and democracy that he embodied. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

A child draws in the condolence register on a page where her mother left a message for "Tata" or "Father" Mandela at the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory in Johannesburg, South Africa, Saturday Dec. 7, 2013. Flags were lowered to half-staff and people in black townships, in upscale mostly white suburbs and in South Africa's vast rural grasslands commemorated Nelson Mandela with song, tears and prayers on Friday while pledging to adhere to the values of unity and democracy that he embodied. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

A child draws in the condolence register on a page where her mother left a message for "Tata" or "Father" Mandela at the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory in Johannesburg, South Africa, Saturday Dec. 7, 2013. Flags were lowered to half-staff and people in black townships, in upscale mostly white suburbs and in South Africa's vast rural grasslands commemorated Nelson Mandela with song, tears and prayers on Friday while pledging to adhere to the values of unity and democracy that he embodied. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

A child draws in the condolence register on a page where her mother left a message for "Tata" or "Father" Mandela at the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory in Johannesburg, South Africa, Saturday Dec. 7, 2013. Flags were lowered to half-staff and people in black townships, in upscale mostly white suburbs and in South Africa's vast rural grasslands commemorated Nelson Mandela with song, tears and prayers on Friday while pledging to adhere to the values of unity and democracy that he embodied. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

A child draws in the condolence register on a page where her mother left a message for "Tata" or "Father" Mandela at the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory in Johannesburg, South Africa, Saturday Dec. 7, 2013. Flags were lowered to half-staff and people in black townships, in upscale mostly white suburbs and in South Africa's vast rural grasslands commemorated Nelson Mandela with song, tears and prayers on Friday while pledging to adhere to the values of unity and democracy that he embodied. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

Mourners sing outside the home of former president Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg, South Africa, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013. South Africa is readying itself for the arrival of a flood of world leaders for the memorial service and funeral of Nelson Mandela as thousands of mourners continued to flock to sites around the country Saturday to pay homage to the freedom struggle icon. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

Mourners sing outside the home of former president Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg, South Africa, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013. South Africa is readying itself for the arrival of a flood of world leaders for the memorial service and funeral of Nelson Mandela as thousands of mourners continued to flock to sites around the country Saturday to pay homage to the freedom struggle icon. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

Mourners sing outside the home of former president Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg, South Africa, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013. South Africa is readying itself for the arrival of a flood of world leaders for the memorial service and funeral of Nelson Mandela as thousands of mourners continued to flock to sites around the country Saturday to pay homage to the freedom struggle icon. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

Mourners sing outside the home of former president Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg, South Africa, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013. South Africa is readying itself for the arrival of a flood of world leaders for the memorial service and funeral of Nelson Mandela as thousands of mourners continued to flock to sites around the country Saturday to pay homage to the freedom struggle icon. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

A man fastens a banner, reading 'Rest in peace Madiba', near the house of former South African president Nelson Mandela in Qunu, South Africa, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013. South Africa is readying itself for the arrival of a flood of world leaders for the memorial service and funeral of Nelson Mandela as thousands of mourners continued to flock to sites around the country Saturday to pay homage to the freedom struggle icon. (AP Photo/Schalk van Zuydam)

A man fastens a banner, reading 'Rest in peace Madiba', near the house of former South African president Nelson Mandela in Qunu, South Africa, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013. South Africa is readying itself for the arrival of a flood of world leaders for the memorial service and funeral of Nelson Mandela as thousands of mourners continued to flock to sites around the country Saturday to pay homage to the freedom struggle icon. (AP Photo/Schalk van Zuydam)

A man fastens a banner, reading 'Rest in peace Madiba', near the house of former South African president Nelson Mandela in Qunu, South Africa, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013. South Africa is readying itself for the arrival of a flood of world leaders for the memorial service and funeral of Nelson Mandela as thousands of mourners continued to flock to sites around the country Saturday to pay homage to the freedom struggle icon. (AP Photo/Schalk van Zuydam)

A man fastens a banner, reading 'Rest in peace Madiba', near the house of former South African president Nelson Mandela in Qunu, South Africa, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013. South Africa is readying itself for the arrival of a flood of world leaders for the memorial service and funeral of Nelson Mandela as thousands of mourners continued to flock to sites around the country Saturday to pay homage to the freedom struggle icon. (AP Photo/Schalk van Zuydam)

A photo of former South African president Nelson Mandela, right, during a remembrance ceremony in Qunu, South Africa, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013. Nelson Mandela, 95, anti-apartheid icon and former South African president, has died. The Nobel Peace Prize winner's death was announced by South African President Jacob Zuma on Thursday.(AP Photo/Schalk van Zuydam)

Floral tributes to Nelson Mandela outside the South Africa High Commission in London, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013. Mandela passed away Thursday night after a long illness. He was 95. (AP Photo/Sang Tan)

A child draws in the condolence register on a page where her mother left a message for "Tata" or "Father" Mandela at the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory in Johannesburg, South Africa, Saturday Dec. 7, 2013. Flags were lowered to half-staff and people in black townships, in upscale mostly white suburbs and in South Africa's vast rural grasslands commemorated Nelson Mandela with song, tears and prayers on Friday while pledging to adhere to the values of unity and democracy that he embodied. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

Mourners sing outside the home of former president Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg, South Africa, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013. South Africa is readying itself for the arrival of a flood of world leaders for the memorial service and funeral of Nelson Mandela as thousands of mourners continued to flock to sites around the country Saturday to pay homage to the freedom struggle icon. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

A man fastens a banner, reading 'Rest in peace Madiba', near the house of former South African president Nelson Mandela in Qunu, South Africa, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013. South Africa is readying itself for the arrival of a flood of world leaders for the memorial service and funeral of Nelson Mandela as thousands of mourners continued to flock to sites around the country Saturday to pay homage to the freedom struggle icon. (AP Photo/Schalk van Zuydam)

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JOHANNESBURG (AP) — South Africa expects overwhelming crowds and a host of world leaders to attend services honoring late President Nelson Mandela, though with the ceremonies only days away officials acknowledged Saturday they couldn’t offer any specifics yet.

Across the country, South Africans already have begun honoring Mandela, who died Thursday at age 95, and officials expect tens of thousands to participate in next week’s official services.

In their first statement since Mandela’s death, his family said they had “lost a great man,” just as they had when South Africa’s apartheid government imprisoned him for decades.

“The pillar of our family is gone, just as he was away during that 27 painful years of imprisonment, but in our hearts and souls he will always be with us,” said the statement, read by family spokesman Lt. Gen. Themba Templeton Matanzima.

“His spirit endures. As a family we commit ourselves to uphold and be guided by the values he lived for and was prepared to die for,” he said.

Official services honoring Mandela begin Tuesday with a major memorial planned at FNB Stadium on the edge of Johannesburg’s Soweto township. Government Minister Collins Chabane told journalists Saturday he expects massive crowds far beyond what the stadium’s normal 95,000-person capacity could hold. He said there would be “overflow” areas set up.

“We can’t tell people not to come,” he said.

He couldn’t offer specifics about how crowds would arrive there with all roads to the venue closed by police or who would serve as a master of ceremonies.

Those planning Mandela’s funeral include the former president’s family, the federal government, the military and the African National Congress political party. Despite some prior planning by authorities as Mandela grew frail and suffered bouts of hospitalization in recent years, many of the details remain up in the air.

It’s unclear which ceremony world leaders will attend, either Tuesday’s stadium memorial or the planned funeral service Dec. 15 in Qunu, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate’s rural hometown in Eastern Cape Province. Chabane said South African officials briefed diplomats Saturday about the arrangements, though they would leave it to foreign governments to say which event their leaders would attend.

U.S. President Barack Obama and his two predecessors, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, already have indicated they will attend services in South Africa honoring Mandela. Many other world leaders also are expected.

Mandela’s body won’t be at the stadium event Tuesday, Chabane said. His body will rest in state Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at the Union Buildings in Pretoria, the seat of government power in South Africa’s capital.

Mourners will walk up the steps into the Union Buildings’ amphitheater and file past Mandela’s body, Chabane said. Authorities blocked visitors from visiting the amphitheater Saturday. Chabane said he didn’t know yet whether it would be an open- or closed-casket viewing.

Mandela’s body will be held overnight those days at a military hospital on Pretoria’s outskirts, Chabane said. He called on residents to line the streets to serve as an honor guard as Mandela’s body will pass twice each day.

ANC members will hold a ceremony on Dec. 14 at Waterkloof Air Force Base near Pretoria before Mandela’s body is flown to Qunu from there, Chabane said.

Sunday has been declared a national day of prayer and reflection over Mandela’s death. On Monday, South Africa’s two houses of parliament will hold special sessions to pay tribute to Mandela, the country’s first black and democratically-elected president.

Tributes to the former anti-apartheid activist continued to pour in from around the globe. Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, who has been in power since his country’s independence from Britain in 1980 and supported Mandela’s ANC during its struggle against the apartheid regime, paid his first public tribute to the deceased leader.

Despite himself being accused by critics of increasingly authoritarian rule, Mugabe praised Mandela as a champion of democracy and “an unflinching fighter for justice.”

“Mr. Nelson Mandela’s renowned and illustrious political life will forever remain a beacon of excellence,” Zimbabwe’s state-run newspaper The Herald quoted Mugabe as saying.

Hundreds gathered Saturday at Mandela’s house in Houghton. They sang liberation songs and walked past expansive, stately homes carrying bundles of flowers and images of Mandela.

Precious Ncayiyana, a pharmacist, carried a painting of Mandela made from old newspaper clippings about him. His left eye bore the number 46664, Mandela’s former inmate number, while his right eye said Madiba, his clan name.

Ncayiyana said she planned to drive the painting’s artist to Pretoria so he could make a painting of the leader’s body lying in state.

“It’s my way of contributing to Madiba’s legacy. He’s gone, but his spirit lives on,” she said.

As the chanting and cheering behind her grew louder, she raised her voice to add: “If you see someone you can help, it doesn’t cost anything. ... That’s what he taught us.”

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Associated Press writer Ray Faure contributed to this report.

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Follow Jon Gambrell on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jongambrellAP.


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