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iol nws dec 8 mandela church

INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS

File photo: Pieter Rudolph of Spier Art Academy prays for Mandela at St George's Cathedral. Photo: Matthew Jordaan

Johannesburg - The sound of babies wailing echoed through the Bryanston Methodist Church in Johannesburg on Sunday as baptisms were conducted during a memorial service for struggle icon Nelson Mandela on Sunday.

Dressed in their finest, Dylan, Channing, Mangeliso, and Ava Victoria were among some of South Africa's youngest citizens baptised.

Some parents wiped away proud tears and others beamed as their children received prayers.

One mother bounced her baby, wearing a flouncy dress and elaborate headband, on her hip.

During songs played by the church band, people raised their hands, closed their eyes, shook their heads or beat their hearts.

President Jacob Zuma and Mandela's ex-wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela were at the service, as were grandson Mandla Mandela, Arts and Culture Minister Paul Mashatile and TV personality Dali Tambo.

Presidential spokesman Mac Maharaj, dressed in a pink shirt, orange tie and grey jacket, lowered his head during prayer.

Meanwhile in Cape Town, mayor Patricia de Lille shared her personal connection with Mandela in a speech delivered at a special council meeting on Sunday. He would phone her every year on her birthday, she said, according to a copy of her speech.

“He flattered me by calling me his favourite opposition politician.”

She said the city had a special relationship with Mandela.

“To our shame, he was imprisoned here for most of his 27-year incarceration. But it was also from here that he gave his first address after his release and where he presided over a new constitutional order.”

Back in Johannesburg, former president Thabo Mbeki is expected to attend a prayer service at the Oxford Shul.

Mandela died aged 95 at his Houghton, Johannesburg, home on Thursday. He would be buried in Qunu next Sunday. - Sapa


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