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Nelson Mandela dies: Former South African president Mandela has died aged 95

South Africa and the world bid farewell to the beloved statesman, apartheid prisoner and Nobel Peace Prize laureate

BY CLAIRE CROMIE

Nelson Mandela, the former president of South Africa, has died.

The anti-apartheid leader died at his home aged 95.

He spent a long period of time in hospital earlier this year after suffering a recurring lung infection.

The country's current president, Jacob Zuma, made the announcement during a live address.

In a televised address, Mr Zuma said: "Our nation has lost its greatest son. Our people have lost a father.

"What made Nelson Mandela great was precisely what made him human. We saw in him what we seek in ourselves."

Mr Zuma said "the nation has lost it's greatest son", adding "he is now resting. He is now at peace."

David Cameron tweeted his condolences, adding: "A great light has gone out in the world. Nelson Mandela was a hero of our time. I've asked for the flag at No10 to be flown at half mast."

Mandela's forgiving spirit and belief in racial reconciliation helped hold South Africa together at a time of extreme tension in the run up to elections in 1994.

The Nobel Peace Prize laureate, who was imprisoned for 27 years by the racist white regime, became the first democratically elected president of South Africa in that year.

Mandela was robust during his decades as a public figure, endowed with charisma, a powerful memory and an extraordinary talent for articulating the aspirations of his people and winning over many of those who opposed him.

In recent years, however, he had become more frail and last made a public appearance at the 2010 World Cup soccer tournament, where he didn't deliver an address and was bundled against the cold.

In another recent illness, Mandela was treated for a lung infection and had a procedure to remove gallstones in December. In March, he spent a night in a hospital for what authorities said was a scheduled medical test.

On April 29, state television broadcast footage of a visit by President Jacob Zuma and other ANC leaders to Mr Mandela at his Johannesburg home.

Mr Zuma said at the time that Mr Mandela was in good shape, but the footage - the first public images of Mr Mandela in nearly a year - showed him silent and unresponsive, even when Mr Zuma tried to hold his hand.

He had been vulnerable to respiratory problems since contracting tuberculosis during 27 years as the prisoner.

The bulk of that period was spent on Robben Island, off the coast of Cape Town where he and other prisoners spent part of the time working in a stone quarry.

He was freed in 1990 and won election to the presidency in the country's first all-race elections in 1994.

He was seen by many around the world as a symbol of resolve and reconciliation for his sacrifice in confinement, as well as his peacemaking efforts during the tense transition that saw the demise of the apartheid system.

The former leader retired from public life years ago and had received medical care at his Johannesburg home until his latest transfer to a hospital.

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