Johannesburg - Nelson Mandela's grandson expressed gratitude for the global outpouring of support since the 95-year-old's death, saying his family had been “overwhelmed” by the response.
“The messages we have received since last night have heartened and overwhelmed us,” said Mandla Mandela, the first public comment from the former president's family since his death.
Mandla was strengthened by the knowledge that his grandfather was finally resting, he said on Friday.
"All that I can do is thank God that I had a grandfather who loved and guided all of us in the family," Mandla Mandela said in a statement.
"The best lesson that he taught all of us was the need for us to be prepared to be of service to our people."
He said the late statesman was the embodiment of strength, struggle, and survival. As a grandfather Mandela would always be remembered as kind-hearted, generous and wise.
Mandla Mandela expressed gratitude for the national and international support his family had received during Mandela's long health problems.
"We in the family recognise that Madiba belongs not only to us but to the entire world. The messages we have received since last night have heartened and overwhelmed us."
He thanked government, the African National Congress, and the doctors who were in charge of Mandela's health.
"We are now preparing to celebrate his contribution to this country, to the world and to our family. Celebrating his long life is the best accolade we can give him," Mandla Mandela said.
Mandela had been in and out of hospital the last few years and spent almost three months in a Pretoria hospital for a lung infection earlier this year. -Sapa and AFP