Mthata - A church official made a plea for the ANC to stop its infighting at a prayer service for former president Nelson Mandela held in Mthatha on Sunday.
“You must go to the polls united next year,” Chief Apostle of the 12 Apostles Church, Caesar Nongqunga, told about 6 000 people at the Ngangelizwe Rotary Stadium.
ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe sat listening in the shade on the stage that had been set up on the pitch, sipping water.
Addressing Mantashe, Nongqunga said the ruling party had a problem with corrupt officials, but that corrupt people were everywhere, even in the churches.
“I don't think there is any party who does not have corrupt members... We have a challenge. First we must heal each other.... We do love you (the ANC), we just want to see you united.”
He said he was tired of people insulting each other.
Turning his attention to Mandela, Nongqunga said the world was mourning a great man.
“We must mourn the passing of a great man by you becoming all that you can be. Peace has got the power, it can change everything.”
Dressed in a black suit, white shirt and black, white and grey tie, Mantashe arrived at 10.45am escorted by church officials and his guards. He shook a few hands before taking his place on the stage.
After Nongqunga's sermon people stood to pray.
Young and old filled the stands at stadium, three tents, or sat on the grass on the pitch, sheltering from the Eastern Cape heat under colourful umbrellas. A long red carpet ran from the middle of the field to the main stage.
Most of the women and girls wore white shirts or tops and blue skirts. Many of the men were clad in blue suits and white shirts.
The service was one of three on Sunday expected to be attended by ANC members in the province. Eastern Cape premier Noxolo Kiviet was also present.
Mandela died aged 95 at his Houghton, Johannesburg, home on Thursday. He would be buried in Qunu next Sunday. - Sapa
Meanwhile, Saturday the Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Braamfontein fed over 1 000 people in honour of Nelson Mandela.
At a mass this morning a photo, candle and tribute book to Madiba stood in front of the alter at the church.
Pastor Gilbert Mardai invited the congregation to pray in thanks for the gift of Mandela's life and for his soul to rest in peace.
“We salute you Mandela as you leave us. We take into our hands the work of making this world a better place in which to live, to seek the way that leads to peace, to ensure that human rights, human dignity and freedom for all are everywhere respected and that the world's resources are generously shared,” Mardai said.
Parish Deacon William Davies spoke of the Christmas lunch for the homeless where people felt so strongly about donating food, drinks and gifts in Mandela's name that they were able to seat 216 homeless people at the church, they took food to the Methodist church and to a shelter in Alexandra.
“We fed close to one thousand people. The contributions were overwhelming,” Davies said. - Angelique Serrao