A screengrab taken from the SABC live feed shows President Jacob Zuma attending the memorial service for Nelson Mandela. Photo: AFP

Johannesburg - President Jacob Zuma received both cheers and boos as he made his way onto the stage for the memorial service of former president Nelson Mandela at the FNB Stadium in Soweto on Tuesday.

Flanked by two of his four wives, Gloria Bongekile Ngema and Thobeka Stacy Mabhija, he took his seat while greeting various dignitaries.

A number of people in the crowd made a rolling hand signal, usually interpreted to mean change is wanted, as he walked on, dressed in a dark suit. Before the welcome address by ANC deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa the crowd cheered Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe and former presidents FW De Klerk and Thabo Mbeki.

However, when Zuma's face appeared on a large screen above the pitch, a sustained boo rolled through the tens of thousands of people gathered for the service.

People watching the service on a big screen in Dobsonville, Soweto, also jeered as Zuma appeared.

Mandela's wife Graca Machel, and his ex-wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela both received loud cheers as the service got underway around noon with the singing of the national anthem. - Sapa