Grieving South Africa will bury Mandela on December 15

Grieving South Africa will bury Mandela on December 15
Schoolchildren hold candles and portraits of former South African President Nelson Mandela during a prayer ceremony at a school in the southern Indian city of Chennai December 6, 2013.

JOHANNESBURG - South Africans united in mourning for Nelson Mandela on Friday, but while some celebrated his remarkable life with dance and song, others fretted that the anti-apartheid hero's death would make the nation vulnerable again to racial and social tensions.

President Jacob Zuma said the anti-apartheid hero would be buried on December 15 at his ancestral home in the Eastern Cape.

South Africans had heard from Zuma late on Thursday that the statesman and Nobel Peace Prize laureate died peacefully at his Johannesburg home in the company of his family after a long illness.

On Friday, the country's 52 million people absorbed the news that their most revered statesman, a global symbol of reconciliation and peaceful co-existence, had departed forever.

Zuma also announced the former president would be honoured with a December 10 memorial service at Johannesburg's Football City stadium - the site of the 2010 World Cup final.

"We will spend the week mourning his passing. We will also spend it celebrating a life well lived," Zuma said.

Zuma said the country's first black president would be laid to rest at his ancestral village of Qunu, 700 km (450 miles) south of Johannesburg, in a family plot where three of Mandela's children and other close family members are buried.

Despite reassurances from public figures that Mandela's passing, while sorrowful, would not halt South Africa's advance away from its apartheid past, there were those who expressed unease about the absence of a man famed as a peacemaker.

"It's not going to be good, hey! I think it's going to become a more racist country. People will turn on each other and chase foreigners away," said Sharon Qubeka, 28, a secretary from Tembisa township.

"Mandela was the only one who kept things together".

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