Nelson Mandela death: Daily funeral cortege planned for Pretoria

The BBC's Pumza Fihlani: A tribute wall set up outside Mandela's former home in Houghton

A funeral cortege bearing Nelson Mandela's body will travel through the streets of Pretoria daily on three days before his burial next Sunday, the South African government says.

It said the cortege will leave a morgue on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday morning to go to the Union Buildings where his body will lie in state.

Mourners are being encouraged to line the route.

His family has expressed gratitude for the support it had received.

Family spokesman Lt Gen Themba Templeton Matanzima said the past two days had not been easy, after losing a "great man, a pillar of the family".

"But with the support we are receiving from here and beyond, and in due time, all will be well for the family," said spokesman Lt Gen Themba Templeton Matanzima.

Vigils for the former leader have been continuing across South Africa.

Hundreds of mourners have gathered outside Mr Mandela's home in Johannesburg's northern suburb of Houghton where he died, and thousands of flowers and candles have been laid outside.

Nelson Mandela

1918 Born in the Eastern Cape

1943 Joins ANC

1956 Charged with high treason, but charges dropped after a four-year trial

1962 Jailed for five years for incitement and leaving country without a passport

1964 Charged with sabotage, sentenced to life

1990 Freed from prison

1993 Wins Nobel Peace Prize

1994-99 Serves as president

2004 Retires from public life

2010 Last major public appearance at football World Cup in Johannesburg

Mr Mandela died on Thursday evening aged 95.

On Saturday the government published further details of the 10-day state funeral, saying as many people as possible would be given the opportunity to pay their last respects.

On Tuesday, an official memorial service will be held at the FNB Stadium on the outskirts of Johannesburg.

When the three days of lying in state are over, Mr Mandela's body will then be flown from an air force base in Pretoria to Qunu in the Eastern Cape for burial.

Qunu is where Mr Mandela grew up and later retired to.

Flags at all official buildings will fly at half mast throughout the period and books of condolence are being circulated across the country and online for people to post tributes, record memories and express their emotions.

Sunday has been designated an official day of prayer and reflection and President Jacob Zuma urged South Africans to to go to stadiums, halls, churches, temples or synagogues.

"We should, while mourning, also sing at the top of our voices, dance and do whatever we want to do, to celebrate the life of this outstanding revolutionary who kept the spirit of freedom alive and led us to a new society. Let us sing for Madiba," he said, using Mr Mandela's clan name.

Mourners outside Mandela home in Houghton. 7 Dec 2013 Crowds are celebrating Mr Mandela's life outside his home in Houghton
Flowers piled up outside Mandela's home in Houghton. 7 Dec 2013 A huge wall of flowers and other tributes is building up outside the Houghton house
Child signs book of condolence at Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory in Johannesburg. 7 Dec 2013 This child had her own way of signing a book of condolence in Johannesburg

A government statement recalled the former president's own thoughts when asked how he wished to be remembered.

"It would be very egotistical of me to say how I would like to be remembered," Mr Mandela said.

"I'd leave that entirely to South Africans. I would just like a simple stone on which is written, 'Mandela'."

Ahmed Kathrada, Mr Mandela's friend of 67 years and his companion in prison on Robben Island, told the BBC of his "overwhelming emotion" at seeing his old friend in hospital earlier this year.

Nelson Mandela's long-time friend, Ahmed Kathrada on visiting him in hospital: "I was shocked at this strong man - a shadow of himself"

"For 67 years I knew him as a strong man. I was shocked [to see] this strong man, a shadow of himself. That was overwhelming... so much so that I told [his wife] Mrs Machel that I don't want to see him again. I thanked her very much but I said, please, I can't bear it."

Mr Kathrada said Graca Machel had sent him a message earlier on Thursday that the former leader would die that evening.

"They were told by the doctor that he was on his very last," he said.

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Nelson Mandela

Tributes to Mr Mandela have come from leaders, celebrities and members of the public around the world.

US President Barack Obama said Mr Mandela "achieved more than could be expected of any man".

Pope Francis said Mr Mandela had forged "a new South Africa built on the firm foundations of non-violence, reconciliation and truth".

The former South African leader spent 27 years in jail before becoming the country's first black president in 1994.

He served a single term before stepping down in 1999.

Mr Mandela was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 along with FW de Klerk, South Africa's last white president.

He suffered repeated bouts of ill health and since September had been receiving treatment at home for a recurring lung illness.

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