It was a honour to work with former president Nelson Mandela in bringing democracy to South Africa, his predecessor FW de Klerk said on Friday.
“It was an honour for me to have been able to work with Mr Mandela in the process that led to the adoption of the interim Constitution and our first democratic elections in April 1994,” the former statesman said in a statement.
“Although we were political opponents, and although our relationship was often stormy, we were always able to come together at critical moments to resolve the many crises that arose during the negotiation process.”
President Jacob Zuma announced Mandela's death on television just before midnight.
“He passed on peacefully in the company of his family around 8.50pm on December 5. He is now resting, he is now at peace. Our nation has lost its greatest son,” Zuma said.
“Fellow South Africans, Nelson Mandela brought us together and it is together that we bid him farewell.”
De Klerk and his wife Elita conveyed their condolences to Mandela's wife Graca Machel, the Mandela family and their friends, the African National Congress, and South Africa as a whole.
“South Africa has lost one of its founding fathers and one of its greatest sons.”
De Klerk said that even in his retirement Mandela was a force for reconciliation and social justice.
“I believe that his example will live on and that it will continue to inspire all South Africans to achieve his vision of non-racialism, justice, human dignity, and equality for all,” he said.
“Tata, we shall miss you, but know that your spirit and example will always be there to guide us to the vision of a better and more just South Africa.”
Mandela and De Klerk jointly shared the Nobel Peace prize in 1993. - Sapa