It was the news that South Africans had feared for months, as Nelson Mandela battled with a long-standing lung infection.
In mid-evening the announcement came that their hero and former leader had passed away aged 95 at his family home in Johannesburg.
President Jacob Zuma gave the sombre news in a televised address saying, “Our nation has lost its greatest son. Our people have lost a father.”
Many mourners poured onto the streets outside his house to pay tribute to their hero wearing just their pajamas. Fighting back tears, one woman said, “I’m sad but at the same time I think he’s had his part in life and he did it very well and it’s fine that he goes. He did all he could. He was old, you know.”
Another man also wanted to pay tribute to his legacy, “It’s tragic, it’s sad. But at the same time I think we should celebrate what he has achieved and what he has given us. I wouldn’t be free if it wasn’t for him.”
Freedom fighter, prisoner, statesman, and Nobel peace prize winner, his life was the stuff of legend and many considered him as family. In Cape Town, one man spoke about the loss as a personal one:
“I’m really going to miss Mandela because he was like a father to me. He is also a role model like Martin Luther, a great fighter and a strong man.”
As preparations are underway for what some are calling the largest state funeral since Winston Churchill’s, South Africans united in song to bid farewell to Madiba.