South Africans, some fearful, mourn Mandela
By Peroshni Govender and Pascal Fletcher, Reuters
December 7, 2013, 12:08 am TWN
JOHANNESBURG--South Africans united in mourning for Nelson Mandela on Friday, but some feared the anti-apartheid hero's death could leave their country vulnerable again to racial and social tensions that he did so much to pacify.
As dawn broke and commuters headed to work, many expressed shock at the passing of a man who was a global symbol of reconciliation and peaceful co-existence.
South Africans heard President Jacob Zuma tell them late on Thursday that the former president and Nobel Peace Prize laureate passed away peacefully at his Johannesburg home in the company of his family after a long illness.
Despite reassurances from leaders and public figures that Mandela's passing, while sorrowful, would not halt South Africa's advance away from its bitter apartheid past, some still expressed a sense of unease about the physical 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 as she headed to work in Johannesburg.
“Mandela was the only one who kept things together,” she said.
Flags flew at half mast as South Africa entered a period of mourning leading up to a planned state funeral next week.
Many attended church services, including another veteran anti-apartheid campaigner, former Archbishop of Cape Town Desmond Tutu. He said that like all South Africans he was “devastated” by Mandela's death.