CAPE TOWN, South Africa —
"You could see it is not Madiba anymore," Holomisa added, using Mandela's clan name.
The government and Mandela's family have revealed few details about Mandela's death. Ahmed Kathrada, who was sentenced to life in prison with Mandela in 1964, said he was informed shortly before Mandela's death that his old friend had little time left.
Kathrada said Graca Machel, Mandela's wife, conveyed the message to him through another person thatMandela "will be leaving us that night" and "the doctors have said, 'Anytime.'"
The death still came as a shock to many South Africans, so accustomed to the enduring presence of the monumental fighter, even when he retired from public life years ago and became increasingly frail.
"He was more than just an individual soul. He was the exposition of the African spirit of generosity," said the Rev. Michael Weeder, dean of St. George's Cathedral.
But he cautioned that the country still has so much to do.
"The strength of the new South Africa will be measured in the distance that the poor and the marginalized travel from the periphery to the center of our society," Weeder said.
In Johannesburg, hundreds swayed and sang at the Regina Mundi Church that was near the epicenter of the Soweto township uprising against white rule in 1976 and served as a refuge from security forces who fired tear gas around the building and whose bullets have pockmarked the outside walls.
The Rev. Sebastian J. Rossouw compared Mandela to the biblical figures Isaiah and John the Baptist as men who led in dark times, calling him "that moonlight in the dark night."
God "sent us this man to show us the depths of the human heart, he sent us this man to show us that despite what was going on at the time, light could shine," Rossouw said. He warned of the flaws of modern life in South Africa, preaching against the "corruption and crime" that plague the country.