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Nelson Mandela’s body has been buried in a family plot, after political and religious leaders paid tribute to South Africa’s first black president at a state funeral service.

Graca Machel and President Jacob Zuma were present for the private, traditional Xhosa burial at Nelson Mandela’s ancestral home in Qunu.

Jacob Zuma had earlier told the larger funeral service that South Africans had to take his legacy forward.

Nelson Mandela died on December 5 at the age 95.

The last of 10 days of commemorations for Nelson Mandela began with his coffin being taken on a gun carriage from his home to a giant marquee where his portrait hung behind 95 candles – each representing a year of his life.

The coffin, draped in the South African flag, was placed beneath a lectern where speakers paid their tributes.

Some guests sang and danced to celebrate Nelson Mandela’s life as the service began.

After the national anthem, the service heard from a family spokesman, Chief Ngangomhlaba Matanzima, who thanked the army medical team that had treated Nelson Mandela before he died.

African National Congress members, veterans of the fight against apartheid and foreign dignitaries – including several African presidents and the Prince of Wales – were among the guests.

Nelson Mandela's body has been buried in a family plot in Qunu

Nelson Mandela’s body has been buried in a family plot in Qunu

Archbishop Desmond Tutu – a long-time friend of Nelson Mandela – was also there, as was queen talk-show +Oprah Winfrey.

While the service took place, a 21-gun salute sounded far away in Pretoria.

President Jacob Zuma, who was booed at last week’s stadium commemoration in Soweto, led the service in song before giving his funeral oration.

“Whilst the long walk to freedom has ended in the physical sense, our own journey continues,” he said.

An unexpected contribution came from Kenneth Kaunda, 89-year-old former president of Zambia, who lightened the tone of the proceedings by jogging to the stage.

He recounted failed appeals he had made to two South African leaders, John Vorster and PW Botha, for the release of Nelson Mandela and his ANC colleagues from prison.

As the political tributes overran, the organizers made an unsuccessful attempt to cut back the religious element of the service.

The master of ceremonies, ANC Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, had earlier explained that burial had to take place at midday, in line with the traditions of Nelson Mandela’s Thembu tribe in Qunu.

“A person of Mandela’s stature is meant to be laid to rest when the sun is at its highest and when the shadow is at its shortest.”

As the state funeral drew to a close, military pallbearers carried the coffin to the grave site for the more private ceremony.

There, a chaplain spoke of Nelson Mandela achieving ultimate freedom at the end of a “truly long walk”.

Three helicopters trailing South African flags then flew over the scene followed by six jets. TV pictures of the grave site came to a close.

British entrepreneur Richard Branson, who attended the burial, said Desmond Tutu told mourners Nelson Mandela “doesn’t need a stone – he is in all of our hearts”.

The former archbishop was at the private ceremony despite conflicting statements on Friday about whether he had been invited.

According to tradition, the Thembu community was holding a private traditional Xhosa ceremony – including songs and poems about Nelson Mandela’s life and his achievements.

An ox was due to be slaughtered and a family elder was to stay near the coffin, to talk “to the body’s spirit”.

The burial brought to an end more than a week of mourning across South Africa.

Tens of thousands of people flocked to the FNB stadium for a public memorial on Tuesday, to hear President Barack Obama and other international leaders pay tribute to Nelson Mandela.

Over the next three days, at least 100,000 people saw the former president’s body lying in state in Pretoria. Thousands more had to be turned away.

On Saturday, Nelson Mandela’s coffin was flown from Waterkloof airbase in Pretoria to Mthatha in the Eastern Cape.

A military guard of honor then took the casket on a 20-mile route to Qunu, where Nelson Mandela had wanted to spend his final days.

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Nelson Mandela’s state funeral is taking place in his ancestral home in Qunu, ending a week of commemorations for South Africa’s first black president.

Some 4,500 people – including foreign dignitaries – are attending the service, which blends state ceremonial with traditional rituals.

Nelson Mandela died on December 5 at the age of 95.

Members of his family attended an overnight vigil, with a traditional praise singer believed to be chanting details of his long journey and life.

The coffin was taken on a gun carriage from Nelson Mandela’s house to a giant white marquee that had been specially erected.

The state funeral started shortly after 08:00 local time.

Inside the marquee, Nelson Mandela’s portrait had been placed behind two rows of candles, on one of three stages.

Nelson Mandela's state funeral is taking place in his ancestral home in Qunu, ending a week of commemorations for South Africa's first black president

Nelson Mandela’s state funeral is taking place in his ancestral home in Qunu, ending a week of commemorations for South Africa’s first black president

After the national anthem, Nkosi Sikelel’I Africa (God Bless Africa) was sung, the service heard from a family spokesman, Chief Matanzima, who praised the army medical team that had treated Nelson Mandela before he died.

Two grandchildren then addressed the congregation.

Listening to the tributes were Graca Machel, his widow, and his second wife, Winnie-Madikizela Mandela, who sat either side of President Jacob Zuma.

African National Congress members, veterans of the fight against apartheid and foreign dignitaries – including several African presidents, the Prince of Wales – are among the guests.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu – a long-time friend of Nelson Mandela – is there, having earlier said he had cancelled his flight as he had not received an invitation.

Talk show queen Oprah Winfrey is also present.

Some guests have been singing and dancing to celebrate Nelson Mandela’s life.

After the two-hour service, Nelson Mandela’s Thembu community will conduct a private traditional Xhosa ceremony – including songs and poems about Mandela’s life and his achievements.

An ox will be slaughtered. A family elder will stay near the coffin, which has been draped with a lion’s skin, to talk “to the body’s spirit”.

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Nelson Mandela’s body has arrived in his ancestral home in Qunu in the Eastern Cape region of South Africa, the final leg of its journey before burial.

Large numbers of people lined the roads in the rural region to pay their respects as the cortege passed by.

A state funeral will be held on Sunday, December 15, for South Africa’s first black president, who died on December 5.

The coffin was flown from Waterkloof airbase in Pretoria on a C130 military aircraft, escorted by two fighter jets.

In line with tribal custom, Nelson Mandela’s grandson Mandla accompanied him on the journey, speaking to his coffin to tell him he was on his way home to rest.

It arrived in Mthatha, 450 miles away at 13:37 local.

Nelson Mandela's coffin has arrived in his ancestral home in Qunu

Nelson Mandela’s coffin has arrived in his ancestral home in Qunu

To solemn music, the coffin draped in a South African flag was moved by a military guard of honor and placed in a hearse to begin the 20 miles journey to Qunu, where Nelson Mandela had said he wanted to be buried.

People waving flags and cheering and singing – in places 10 to 12 deep – lined the route taken by the cortege through Mthatha town to pay their last respects.

Tears as well as smiles could be seen on the faces of onlookers.

The cortege then drove through the gates of the Mandela homestead in Qunu, where it will rest overnight in the grounds of the royal house of Thembu.

The Thembu community will conduct a traditional ceremony – including songs and poems about Nelson Mandela’s life and his achievements – in a giant white marquee that has been specially erected.

Some 4,000 people, including presidents from Africa, several prime ministers, the Iranian vice-president, and the Prince of Wales, are expected to attend.

However, Archbishop Desmond Tutu – a long-time friend of Nelson Mandela – has cancelled arrangements to fly to the Eastern Cape for the funeral after saying he had not been invited.

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Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a veteran anti-apartheid campaigner in South Africa, has said he will not be going to Nelson Mandela’s funeral because he has not been invited.

“I would have loved to attend the service to say a final farewell to someone I loved and treasured,” Desmond Tutu said in a statement.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu has said he will not be going to Nelson Mandela's funeral because he has not been invited

Archbishop Desmond Tutu has said he will not be going to Nelson Mandela’s funeral because he has not been invited

But he did not want to gatecrash “a private family funeral.”

However, a presidential spokesman said Archbishop Desmond Tutu was on the guest list for Sunday’s funeral and a solution would be found.

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The African National Congress (ANC) members have paid final tributes to Nelson Mandela at a ceremony in Pretoria ahead of Sunday’s funeral.

President Jacob Zuma and other ANC leaders attended the event, which included a multi-faith service and a musical tribute.

Afterwards, Nelson Mandela’s coffin began the journey by air and road to his ancestral home at Qunu.

It is being accompanied by family members and officials.

At least 100,000 people saw the former South African president’s body lying in state in Pretoria over the last three days, but some had to be turned away.

The 95-year-old former leader died on December 5.

More than 1,000 members of the ANC, which Nelson Mandela once led, attended the ceremony at the Waterkloof air base in Pretoria.

US civil rights activist Jesse Jackson and Ireland’s Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams were among the foreign guests invited.

Nelson Mandela's coffin began the journey by air and road to his ancestral home at Qunu

Nelson Mandela’s coffin began the journey by air and road to his ancestral home at Qunu

Mourners heard President Jacob Zuma pay his own tribute to Nelson Mandela, calling him a “towering figure”, “a man of action” and a “democrat who understood the world.”

“Yes, we will miss him… He was our father, he was our guardian. He was something special.”

“We’ll always keep you in our hearts,” Jacob Zuma said.

The coffin is being flown to Mthatha airport in the Eastern Cape ahead of the burial in Qunu.

The C130 military aircraft carrying the coffin was escorted by two fighter jets after take-off.

Chief mourners from Nelson Mandela’s Thembu clan and family, as well as senior government officials, would be accompanying the coffin, army officials said.

However his widow Graca Machel, and former wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, were travelling on a separate flight, in accordance with Thembu tradition.

A military guard of honor will welcome the flight in Mthatha, and the coffin will be placed on a gun carriage and transported to a hearse.

People have been invited to form a human chain to pay their last respects as the cortege makes its way to Qunu.

In Qunu, the Thembu community will conduct a traditional ceremony in a giant white marquee that has been specially erected.

Some 4,000 people, including presidents from Africa, several prime ministers, the Iranian vice-president, and the Prince of Wales, are expected to attend.

On Friday, the South African government said in a statement that “the third day closed with over 50,000 paying their respects to our national icon and first democratically elected president of our country”.

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Hundreds of people pushed through police lines in a last-ditch bid to see Nelson Mandela lying in state in South Africa’s capital Pretoria.

They were hoping to be the last of some 50,000 people to pass through the Union Buildings on Friday, where the former president’s body has lain.

Officials say at least 100,000 people have visited the venue over the past three days to pay their respects.

Nelson Mandela’s coffin was taken from the building shortly after doors closed.

The coffin was escorted by a guard of honour to a waiting hearse as military helicopters circled over the city.

Nelson Mandela’s body will remain in Pretoria overnight, and there will be a ceremony at a local air force base on Saturday morning to allow members of the governing African National Congress to say a last farewell.

Hundreds of people pushed through police lines in a last-ditch bid to see Nelson Mandela lying in state

Hundreds of people pushed through police lines in a last-ditch bid to see Nelson Mandela lying in state

The coffin will then be flown to the Eastern Cape ahead of the burial at Nelson Mandela’s ancestral home in Qunu on Sunday.

The funeral will mark the end of a period of commemorations in South Africa since Nelson Mandela died at 95 on December 5.

“The third day closed with over 50,000 paying their respects to our national icon and first democratically elected President of our country,” the South African government said in a statement.

Shortly before the lying in state came to an end, at 17:45 local time, hundreds of people towards the front of the queue pushed through in the hope to be one of the last through the door.

One police officer told the AFP news agency: “There are too many people. The whole of the Republic of South Africa wants to say goodbye.”

Many people waited in the line for 11 hours for the chance to see Nelson Mandela’s body.

Some were angry more time had not been allowed for this ceremonial; others said even if they could not reach Nelson Mandela’s coffin for a personal farewell it was enough simply to be there.

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Sign language interpreter Thamsanqa Jantjie, who claimed to suffer an on-stage schizophrenic episode during Nelson Mandela’s memorial service, failed to communicate a single word of a speech made by South African President Jacob Zuma more than a year ago.

The Deaf Federation of South Africa alleged that “100% of the information was omitted” by Thamsanqa Jantjie after he appeared at an event in January 2012.

According to NBC News, the group described Thamsanqa Jantjie’s interpreting for Jacob Zuma as “a mockery” and claimed his gestures appeared “self-invented”.

Thamsanqa Jantjie’s abilities came into question after he was accused by deaf groups of performing meaningless gestures during Nelson Mandela’s memorial service. Some groups suggested he was a “fake.”

He translated while standing three feet away from world leaders including President Barack Obama.

The Deaf Federation of South Africa complained to ANC Secretary General Gwede Mantashe following the party’s centenary celebrations last year.

The federation’s national director Bruno Druchen wrote that Thamsanqa Jantjie’s sign language at that event was “meaningless” and “self-invented.”

Thamsanqa Jantjie failed to communicate a single word of a speech made by President Jacob Zuma in 2012

Thamsanqa Jantjie failed to communicate a single word of a speech made by President Jacob Zuma in 2012

In the letter, which is dated January 21, 2012, Bruno Druchen compares an extract from Jacob Zuma’s speech with what Thamsanqa Jantjie actually conveyed through his sign language.

Bruno Druchen quoted Jacob Zuma as saying:

“Deputy president of the ANC and officials of the African National Congress, National Executive Committee of the African National Congress, ANC women league , Youth League (crowd scream and applaud) African National Congress leadership of MK military . Leadership from SACP, SATU and SANCO.

Friends from all over Africa and the world, comrades and compatriots, the ANC is the oldest liberation movement on the African continent is 100 years old today. We have come from all corners of South Africa , Africa and the World.”

Bruno Druchen then translated the sign language Thamsanqa Jantjie was using on stage to convey Jacob Zuma’s words (some of his corresponding hand movements are in brackets):

“All heart (ten hand move forward) which had no meaning, together (hand move back to the heart) then the sign for C is used. The hands go down to side and then point left with his right hand (no meaning) sign for beg is used repeatedly and the sign is placed on different levels in front of torso with a rocking movement. Both hands in claw shape in the air with movement with no meaning , then again the sign for beg, tree and the help sign and then the hands go forward indicating future.”

Bruno Druchen goes on to say that the interpreter did not use facial expressions, a crucial part of any form of sign language, and describes his performance as a “mime.”

“The signs used are not recognized by the deaf community in South Africa…the interpreter is unknown to the deaf community,” he said.

ANC spokesman Jackson Mthembu said he has no knowledge of the complaint ever being made. He said his party is investigating the incident and reviewing its hiring and vetting procedures.

The South African government has launched an investigation into the Mandela’s memorial incident.

According to Thamsanqa Jantjie, he was paid a $85 day rate for appearing at Nelson Mandela’s memorial service.

On Thursday, South African government minister Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu pointed out that most qualified sign language interpreters charge $125 to $165 per hour and speculated that a junior official might have opted for the cheapest quote.

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South African government has warned people not to attempt to go to see Nelson Mandela’s body in the capital, Pretoria, unless they are already in the queue.

Nelson Mandela’s body is lying in state at the Union Buildings, where he was sworn in as South Africa’s first black president in 1994.

More than 50,000 people were waiting for buses when the warning came.

Nelson Mandela will be buried at his ancestral home in Qunu on Sunday, December 15. He died on December 5 at the age of 95.

His body is to be flown to the rural area of the Eastern Cape where he grew up.

Friday is the last of three days for people to file past the body in Pretoria.

The government said it could not guarantee everyone already waiting for buses would get in.

The response from the public to view Nelson Mandela, known by his clan name Madiba, had been “overwhelming and heart-warming”, government spokesman Phumla Williams said in a statement.

South African government has warned people not to attempt to go to see Nelson Mandela's body in Pretoria, unless they are already in the queue

South African government has warned people not to attempt to go to see Nelson Mandela’s body in Pretoria, unless they are already in the queue

Between 12,000 and 14,000 people had paid their respects to Nelson Mandela on the first day he laid in state “with two people passing every three seconds on day two”, she said.

If any additional numbers came on Friday it would make it physically impossible for people to get the opportunity to file past the body, she added.

“We appeal to members of the public who have not had the opportunity to pay their respects to President Mandela at the Union Buildings, to say goodbye in their own personal way.”

Correspondents who have visited the coffin said Nelson Mandela’s body could be seen through a glass screen, dressed in one of his trademark patterned shirts.

At each end of the casket stood two navy officers clad in white uniforms, with their swords pointing down.

Some mourners stopped briefly to pray, while a number of people reportedly fainted.

At the end of the day, Nelson Mandela’s body will be returned to One Military Hospital before being flown from Waterkloof Military Airbase near Pretoria to Mthatha on Saturday.

Lt-Gen Xolani Mabangu, from the defense force, said chief mourners among the Madiba clan and Mandela family, as well as senior government officials, would accompany the body, the South African Press Association reports.

A military guard of honor will welcome the arrival, and the coffin will be placed on a gun carriage and transported to a hearse.

Nelson Mandela’s body will then be taken to his home village of Qunu, where the Thembu community will conduct a traditional ceremony.

A national day of reconciliation will take place in South Africa on December 16, when a statue of Nelson Mandela will be unveiled at the Union Buildings.

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South Africa’s Deputy Disability Minister Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu says the government is investigating how interpreter Thamsanqa Jantjie, who faked sign language at Nelson Mandela’s memorial service was given security clearance.

Thamsanqa Jantjie, who stood alongside world leaders at the event, has denied being a fraud, and said he panicked when he began hallucinating.

The sign interpreter said he had schizophrenia, which had in the past made him act violently.

The agency that employed him, SA Interpreters, has reportedly vanished.

Thamsanqa Jantjie, who stood alongside world leaders at Nelson Mandela’s memorial service, has denied being a fraud

Thamsanqa Jantjie, who stood alongside world leaders at Nelson Mandela’s memorial service, has denied being a fraud

The African National Congress (ANC) said it had used Thamsanqa Jantjie as an interpreter several times before, and “had not been aware of any of complaints regarding the quality of services, qualifications or reported illnesses” of the interpreter.

Tuesday’s memorial at a stadium in Johannesburg was organized by the state, not the ANC, so the ruling party could not comment on security arrangements.

The South African Translators’ Institute said earlier there had been complaints over Thamsanqa Jantjie’s work before, but that the ANC had taken no action.

The ANC said it would “follow up the reported correspondence that has supposedly been sent to us in this regard and where necessary act on it”.

During the memorial, Thamsanqa Jantjie stood on the stage next to key speakers including President Barack Obama, South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma and Nelson Mandela’s grandchildren, translating their eulogies.

Thamsanqa Jantjie ‘s performance was watched on television by millions of people worldwide and angered the South African deaf community. Pressure has been mounting on the government to explain why he was hired for such an important event.

Deputy Disability Minister Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu told a news conference on Thursday: “Firstly, I don’t think South Africa as a country would put at risk anybody’s security, especially those of heads of state.

“Secondly, when somebody provides a service of a sign language interpreter, I don’t think… somebody would say: <<Is your head ok? Do you have any mental disability?>> I think the focus was on: <<Are you able to sign? Can you provide the services?>>”

But she said: “In terms of security clearance that is in a process, we are requesting to check his vetting.”

Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu apologized to the deaf community but said there was no reason for South Africa to be embarrassed.

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The company which supplied a “fake” sign language interpreter to the Mandela memorial service has vanished, a South African minister has said.

Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu apologized to the deaf community for the poor quality of interpretation given by Thamsanqa Jantjie from SA Interpreters.

“He is Xhosa speaking. The English was a bit too much for him,” she said.

Thamsanqa Jantjie himself has blamed his flawed interpretation on a schizophrenic episode.

He also admitted he has been violent in the past.

Thamsanqa Jantjie has blamed his flawed interpretation on a schizophrenic episode

Thamsanqa Jantjie has blamed his flawed interpretation on a schizophrenic episode

During the memorial, Thamsanqa Jantjie was employed to stand on the stage next to key speakers such as President Barack Obama and Nelson Mandela’s grandchildren, translating their eulogies.

But the minister denied there was a security issue, saying the interpreter had been properly accredited.

Nelson Mandela died last week at the age of 95, and will be buried on Sunday, December 15.

Ever since Tuesday’s event, pressure has been mounting on the government to explain why Thamsanqa Jantjie was hired for such an important event.

During a press conference, Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu, the deputy minister for women, children and people with disabilities, admitted that a mistake had been made but said there was no reason for the country to be embarrassed.

“There are as many as a hundred sign language dialects,” Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu said, to explain the difficulties he faced.

“He started well and later he became tired. Guidelines say we must switch interpreters every 20 minutes.”

Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu did not rule out employing him in some circumstances again.

But she accused Thamsanqa Jantjie’s employers, SA Interpreters, of being cheats, and said the company’s directors had now vanished into thin air.

His performance was watched on television by millions of people worldwide.

Thamsanqa Jantjie said that during the event, he had lost concentration because of voices in his head.

He had started hallucinating, and saw angels coming into the stadium.

Thamsanqa Jantjie also indicated that his past behavior had sometimes been unpredictable, telling the Associated Press news agency that “sometimes I will react violent on this place, sometimes I will see things chasing me”.

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Thamsanqa Jantjie – the South African sign language interpreter accused of gesticulating gibberish during Nelson Mandela’s memorial service – defended his “champion” performance Thursday, but said he may have suffered a schizophrenic episode while on stage.

Thamsanqa Jantjie, 34, told Johannesburg’s Star newspaper he started hearing voices in his head and hallucinating, resulting in gestures that made no sense to outraged deaf people around the world.

“There was nothing I could do. I was alone in a very dangerous situation. I tried to control myself and not show the world what was going on. I am very sorry. It’s the situation I found myself in,” Thamsanqa Jantjie told the paper.

He did not know what triggered the attack, saying he took medication for his schizophrenia.

Thamsanqa Jantjie said he may have suffered a schizophrenic episode while on stage at Nelson Mandela’s memorial service

Thamsanqa Jantjie said he may have suffered a schizophrenic episode while on stage at Nelson Mandela’s memorial service

Millions of TV viewers saw Thamsanqa Jantjie interpreting Tuesday at Nelson Mandela’s memorial attended by leaders from around the world, but South Africa’s leading deaf association on Wednesday denounced him as a fake, saying he was inventing signs.

However, in a radio interview, Thamsanqa Jantjie said he was happy with his performance at the memorial.

“Absolutely, absolutely. I think that I’ve been a champion of sign language,” he told Talk Radio 702.

The controversy has overshadowed South Africa’s 10-day farewell to Nelson Mandela, whose remains were lying in state for a second day Thursday at the Union Buildings in Pretoria, where he was sworn in as the nation’s first black president in 1994.

Revelations about Thamsanqa Jantjie’s unconventional gestures – experts said he did not know even basic signs such as  “thank you” or “Mandela” – sparked a hunt for the mystery signer on Wednesday.

The government, which was in charge of the mass memorial, said it had no idea who he was, as did the ruling African National Congress (ANC), even though footage from two large ANC events last year showed him signing on stage next to President Jacob Zuma.

Thamsanqa Jantjie said he worked for a company called SA Interpreters, which had been hired by the ANC for Tuesday’s ceremony at Johannesburg’s 95,000-seat Soccer City stadium.

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Deaf viewers have complained that the official sign language interpreter at Nelson Mandela’s memorial service was inept.

According to the Deaf Federation of South Africa, the man’s signs were “arbitrary” and “did not make sense”.

Wilma Newhoudt-Druchen, South Africa’s first deaf female MP, tweeted that the interpreter was “signing rubbish”.

The man was “employed by ANC head office or used by them” but didn’t use South African sign language.

Nelson Mandela's memorial deaf interpreter used fake sign language

Nelson Mandela’s memorial deaf interpreter used fake sign language

“ANC-linked interpreter on the stage with dep president of ANC is signing rubbish. He cannot sign. Please get him off,” Wilma Newhoudt-Druchen tweeted during the live broadcast.

The ANC refused to comment on whether it had used the interpreter at previous events.

South Africa’s government said it was preparing a statement, according to the Associated Press news agency.

The sign language interpreter has yet to be publicly identified.

Francois Deysal, who is a signing trainer at the Deaf Federation of South Africa, said he was “not known to the deaf community or other interpreters in South Africa”.

South African sign language has its own structure and is not linked to any spoken language like Afrikaans, Xhosa or English..

South African Braam Jordaan, the Young Deaf Leader for the World Federation of the Deaf, said the man was “creating his own signs”.

Braam Jordaan said deaf people had been excluded in South Africa long before apartheid happened.

There is one sign language interpreter for every 10,000 deaf people in South Africa, he said via an interpreter.

Major national and international news channels broadcast Nelson Mandela’s state memorial service live on Tuesday.

The man was seen on stage signing as friends and family of Nelson Mandela, and world leaders, paid tribute to the former South African president.

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Nelson Mandela’s coffin arrived at the Union Buildings in Pretoria, where his remanis will lie in state for three days.

The former South African president’s remains were taken in procession from a hospital mortuary to the government main building.

Members of the public lined the route to form a “guard of honor”.

The public, invited heads of state and international guests will be able to view the body of the former president who died last Thursday, aged 95.

He will be buried in his home village of Qunu in Eastern Cape province on Sunday.

Tens of thousands of South Africans joined scores of world leaders for a national memorial service on Tuesday as part of a series of commemorations.

Nelson Mandela’s coffin arrived at the Union Buildings in Pretoria, where his remanis will lie in state for three days

Nelson Mandela’s coffin arrived at the Union Buildings in Pretoria, where his remanis will lie in state for three days

The procession left the city’s 1 Military Hospital shortly after 07:00 on Wednesday. The coffin could be seen inside a black hearse, draped in a South African flag.

It travelled along Kgosi Mampuru Street and Madiba Street on the way to the Union Buildings.

The hearse was in a long convoy with military outriders and military ambulances.

Nelson Mandela’s remains will make the journey from the military hospital every morning from Wednesday until Friday, the government announced.

“The public are encouraged to form a guard of honor by lining the streets,” it said.

At the memorial service on Tuesday, President Jacob Zuma announced that the Union Buildings would be renamed the Mandela Amphitheatre.

Nelson Mandela’s family and selected VIP visitors will be able to view the body from 10:00 local time on Wednesday.

Members of the public can file past from 12:00 to 17:30.

The public will then be able to view the body from 08:00 to 17:30 on Thursday and Friday.

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Thousands of South Africans have joined dozens of world leaders for the national memorial service for Nelson Mandela.

The service is being held in front of a vociferous crowd in the FNB stadium in Johannesburg.

President Barack Obama said Nelson Mandela was a “giant of history”, adding: “The world thanks you for sharing Nelson Mandela with us.”

Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s first black president died last Thursday, aged 95.

South Africa is observing a series of commemorations leading up to the funeral on Sunday.

The memorial service is one of the biggest gatherings of international dignitaries in recent years.

There had been fears people would be turned away, but the heavy rain left areas of the 95,000 capacity stadium empty.

Introducing the proceedings, the master of ceremonies, Cyril Ramaphosa, said that Nelson Mandela’s “long walk is over… and he can finally rest”.

The first speaker, friend and fellow Robben Island inmate Andrew Mlangeni, said Neslon Mandela had “created hope when there was none”.

Barack Obama delivered his address, carried on the White House web site, to huge cheers. He said: “It is hard to eulogize any man… how much harder to do so for a giant of history, who moved a nation towards justice.”

President Barack Obama said Nelson Mandela was a "giant of history"

President Barack Obama said Nelson Mandela was a “giant of history”

He said Nelson Mandela had taught the world the power of action and the power of ideas, and that it had taken a man like Mandela to free not only the prisoner but also the jailer.

Barack Obama said: “We will never see the likes of Nelson Mandela again. While I will always fall short of Madiba [Nelson Mandela’s clan name], he makes me want to be a better man.”

On his way to the podium, Barack Obama shook hands with Cuban President Raul Castro, an unprecedented gesture between the leaders of two nations that have been at loggerheads for more than half a century.

In his address, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said there was “sorrow for a mighty loss and celebration of a mighty life”.

Ban Ki-moon said: “South Africa has lost a hero, it has lost a father… He was one of our greatest teachers. He taught by example. He sacrificed so much and was willing to give up all he had for freedom and democracy.”

Nelson Mandela’s widow, Graca Machel, arrived at the stadium to huge cheers as she was shown on the big screen.

There were cheers too of “Winnie! Winnie!” for ex-wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, who hugged and kissed Graca Machel.

However, there were boos for current President Jacob Zuma.

He will make the keynote address. Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, Chinese Vice-President Li Yuanchao, President Hifikepunye Pohamba of Namibia and Indian President Pranab Mukherjee are also making speeches.

Raul Castro will also speak, reflecting the fact that under his brother, Fidel, Cuba was a staunch critic of apartheid, and Nelson Mandela had expressed gratitude for that support.

The memorial service, which had been due to start at 11:00, will last about four hours, according to the official programme.

Correspondents say that the heavy rain, security and transport issues and the fact that Tuesday was not declared a national holiday have kept the numbers down.

Nelson Mandela’s body will lie in state in Pretoria on the following three days and a state funeral takes place on Sunday in his home village of Qunu in Eastern Cape province.

More than 100 current or former heads of state or government will attend the funeral or the national memorial, according to the South African government.

Among those not attending the memorial events will be Israel’s PM Benjamin Netanyahu, who cited high travel and security costs.

However, there will be suspicion that he wishes to avoid the potential for anti-Israeli protests.

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South Africa’s parliament is meeting in special session to pay tribute to Nelson Mandela.

The country is observing a series of commemorations over the next week, leading up to the funeral on Sunday, December 15.

More than 100 current or former heads of state or government are expected to attend the funeral or Tuesday’s national memorial.

The foreign ministry says that 91 current heads of state or government have confirmed they are coming to South Africa, along with “10 former heads of state, 86 heads of delegations and 75 eminent persons”.

Presidents Barack Obama and Francois Hollande along with UK’s PM David Cameron will be among those attending Tuesday’s memorial.

Three former US presidents, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, will also be there.

On Saturday, Cuban state media announced that President Raul Castro would be one of those attending Nelson Mandela’s funeral.

South Africa's parliament is meeting in special session to pay tribute to Nelson Mandela

South Africa’s parliament is meeting in special session to pay tribute to Nelson Mandela

Under Raul Castro’s brother Fidel, Cuba was a staunch critic of apartheid, and Nelson Mandela had expressed gratitude for his support.

Tuesday’s memorial service is likely to be one of the biggest such gatherings of international dignitaries in recent years.

Among those on the list are UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, German President Joachim Gauck, EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, Dutch King Willem-Alexander and Crown Prince Felipe of Spain.

World leaders, global figures and celebrities will join 95,000 ordinary South Africans at the memorial service at FNB stadium in Soweto, where Nelson Mandela made his final major public appearance during the 2010 football World Cup.

Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and India’s President Pranab Mukherjee will also be coming.

Leading celebrities in the anti-apartheid movement Peter Gabriel and Bono are also expected to attend.

Nelson Mandela’s body will lie in state in Pretoria on the following three days and he will be given a state funeral on Sunday.

A smaller number of international dignitaries including the Prince of Wales will attend the burial in the Eastern Cape village of Qunu, where the late president grew up.

Mourners have gathered every day outside Nelson Mandela’s house in the Johannesburg suburb of Houghton.

Well wishers have lit candles there and laid thousands of wreaths of flowers at Nelson Mandela’s old home in Soweto.

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More than 60 international leaders have announced they will take part in the memorial service or state funeral of Nelson Mandela, South Africa says.

Barack Obama, Francois Hollande and UK’s PM David Cameron will be among those attending Tuesday’s memorial at a Soweto stadium.

South Africa’s first black president died on Thursday and the nation has held a day of prayer and reflection.

Mourners in their millions visited places of worship and community halls.

At Soweto’s Regina Mundi Catholic Church, a centre of the anti-apartheid struggle, the priest Sebastian Roussouw said the late leader had been “a light in the darkness”.

Nelson Mandela’s ex-wife, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, was among the congregation at the Bryanston Methodist church in Johannesburg, where President Jacob Zuma urged South Africans not to forget the values he had stood for.

In Cape Town, Archbishop Thabo Makgoba said Nelson Mandela was a powerful and continuing reminder that individuals have the power to make change happen in the world.

Over the next eight days, a series of events will commemorate the man who steered their country out of white-minority rule.

More than 60 international leaders have announced they will take part in the memorial service or state funeral of Nelson Mandela

More than 60 international leaders have announced they will take part in the memorial service or state funeral of Nelson Mandela

Heads of state and government, global figures and celebrities will join 95,000 ordinary South Africans at the memorial service at FNB stadium in Soweto, where Nelson Mandela made his final major public appearance during the 2010 football World Cup.

The event is likely to be one of the biggest such gatherings of international dignitaries in recent years. The government said 59 leaders had so far confirmed they would be attending: an indication of the special place Nelson Mandela held in people’s hearts across the world, officials say.

Among those on the list are UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, German President Joachim Gauck, EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, Dutch King Willem-Alexander and Crown Prince Felipe of Spain.

Three former US presidents, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, will join President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama.

Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and India’s Pranab Mukherjee will also be there. Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani has not yet confirmed whether he will travel.

Leading celebrities in the anti-apartheid movement Peter Gabriel and Bono are also expected to attend as are former international leaders such as Marti Ahtisaari who, along with Nelson Mandela, were part of a group known as The Elders, promoting peace and human rights.

Nelson Mandela’s body will lie in state in Pretoria on the following three days and he will be given a state funeral on Sunday, 15 December.

A smaller number of international dignitaries including the Prince of Wales will attend the burial in the Eastern Cape village of Qunu, where the late president grew up.

While Tuesday’s memorial service will clearly be a big organizational challenge, the state funeral will be a greater logistical one because of its rural remoteness.

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South African people are taking part in a day of “prayer and reflection” for late ex-President Nelson Mandela.

President Jacob Zuma will attend a service in a Methodist church in Johannesburg, with other multi-faith services planned throughout the day.

A national memorial service will be held on Tuesday, ahead of a state funeral on December 15.

South Africans have been holding vigils since Nelson Mandela died on Thursday at the age of 95.

Jacob Zuma urged South Africans to go to stadiums, halls, churches, and other places of worship on Sunday to remember their former leader.

South African people are taking part in a day of "prayer and reflection" for late ex-President Nelson Mandela

South African people are taking part in a day of “prayer and reflection” for late ex-President Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela’s successor as president, Thabo Mbeki, will attend a service at the Oxford Shul synagogue in Johannesburg in the afternoon.

Other senior politicians and ANC officials will go to services across the city, and the country.

Nelson Mandela’s body will lie in state on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at the heart of the South African government in Pretoria.

Members of the public have been encouraged to line the route and form a “guard of honor” when his remains are taken to the site.

A funeral cortege bearing his body is to travel through the streets of Pretoria for three consecutive days before his burial next Sunday.

On Saturday it was announced that President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama will attend Tuesday’s memorial service, along with three other former US presidents, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter.

One government minister has predicted the 95,000-seat stadium being used for the event will be overwhelmed, and promised that overflow areas would be set up.

On Saturday Nelson Mandela’s family gave their first public statement since his death, describing the difficulty of the past two days and the week ahead.

Family spokesman Lt Gen Matanzima likened Nelson Mandela to a baobab tree that had provided shade and protection to his family.

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The South Africa’s government has released an updated schedule of official observances in honor of Nelson Mandela, culminating in a state funeral a week from Sunday.

Minister in the Presidency Collins Chabane released the new details and said that the government would work closely with Nelson Mandela’s family “to ensure that all events conform to the family’s wishes and are culturally compliant”.

The official events honoring Mandela begin on Sunday, December 8, when the government will observe a national day of prayer and reflection “in which South Africans will celebrate the life of Mandela and his legacy in places of worship, homes and communities”, Collins Chabane said.

Nelson Mandela’s funeral service and interment ceremony will take place at his home

Nelson Mandela’s funeral service and interment ceremony will take place at his home

On Tuesday, December 10, an official memorial service for Nelson Mandela will be held at the FNB Stadium in Johannesburg, also known as the Soccer City stadium, the site of the 2010 World Cup final. The ceremony will be attended by members of the public and by a number of visiting heads of state and government, though Collins Chabane said the list of world leaders that would attend had not yet been finalized.

Nelson Mandela’s body will lie in state in an open casket at the Union Buildings, the official seat of the South African government, from Wednesday through Friday, with viewing open to “South Africans and selected international visitors and guests”, Collins Chabane said.

He also said Nelson Mandela’s remains would be transported daily between a nearby military hospital and the Union Buildings. South Africans wishing to view the late president’s remains will be shuttled from two yet-to-be named locations to the Unions Building.

On Saturday, December 14, Nelson Mandela’s body will be moved to the Eastern Cape province, where members of the ruling African National Congress party will bid him farewell. Later, a procession will take place from Mthatha to Qunu, where the Thembu community, of which Nelson Mandela was a member, will conduct a traditional ceremony.

On Sunday, December 15, a funeral service and interment ceremony will take place at Nelson Mandela’s home and final resting place at Qunu in the Eastern Cape.

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The South African government has announced that 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 government 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.

Meanwhile, vigils for the former leader are continuing across South Africa.

Hundreds of mourners have gathered outside Nelson 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 – South Africa’s first black president – died on Thursday evening aged 95.

A funeral cortege bearing Nelson Mandela's body will travel through the streets of Pretoria daily on three days before his burial

A funeral cortege bearing Nelson Mandela’s body will travel through the streets of Pretoria daily on three days before his burial

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, Nelson 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 Nelson 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 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,” Jacob Zuma said, using Nelson Mandela’s clan name.

Meanwhile, a government statement recalled Nelson Mandela’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,” Nelson Mandela said.

“I’d leave that entirely to South Africans. I would just like a simple stone on which is written, <<Mandela>>.”

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Nelson Mandela is to be accorded a state funeral on Sunday, December 15, South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma announced.

Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s first black president, died on Thursday, December 5, aged 95.

Hundreds are gathered outside Nelson Mandela’s home in Johannesburg’s northern suburb of Houghton, where he died.

They have been sharing memories of the former leader, recounting how they drew inspiration from his life.

A stage has been erected near the house, from where priests have led the crowd in prayers.

One of his grandsons. Mbuso Mandela, laid wreaths in his grandfather’s memory.

President Jacob Zuma visited the house in the early afternoon to pay his respects.

Nelson Mandela is to be accorded a state funeral on Sunday, December 15

Nelson Mandela is to be accorded a state funeral on Sunday, December 15

At a news conference on Friday afternoon, Jacob Zuma outlined a week of events to mourn the former president.

  • Sunday, December 8, will be an official day of prayer and reflection with special religious services
  • On Tuesday, December 10, a service of national mourning will be held at a 95,000-seater stadium on the outskirts of Johannesburg
  • Nelson Mandela’s body will lie in state from Wednesday to Friday in the capital, Pretoria

Next Sunday’s funeral will be held in the village of Qunu in the Eastern Cape, where Nelson Mandela grew up. South African Airways has announced that it will provide extra flights to Qunu for mourners.

Hundreds have attended an interfaith remembrance service outside Cape Town’s City Hall. The Johannesburg stock exchange suspended operations for five minutes on Friday as a mark of respect.

The White House has announced that President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama will be travelling to South Africa next week to pay their respects and take part in memorial events.

Flags are flying at half-mast on government buildings in Washington DC, Paris and across South Africa. The European Union and world football body FIFA have also ordered their flags to be lowered.

Parliament in Pretoria is expected to hold a special joint session to reflect on Nelson Mandela’s life and legacy.

Nelson Mandela died on Thursday, December 5, shortly before 21:00 local time.

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Nelson Mandela – South Africa’s first black president – has died at the age of 95, President Jacob Zuma announces.

Nelson Mandela led South Africa’s transition from white-minority rule in the 1990s, after 27 years in prison.

He had been receiving intense home-based medical care for a lung infection after three months in hospital.

Nelson Mandela was South Africa's first black president

Nelson Mandela was South Africa’s first black president

In a statement on South African national TV, Jacob Zuma said Nelson Mandela had “departed” and was at peace.

“Our nation has lost its greatest son,” Jacob Zuma said.

Nelson Mandela was one of the world’s most revered statesmen after preaching reconciliation despite being imprisoned for 27 years.

The Nobel Peace Prize laureate had rarely been seen in public since officially retiring in 2004.

“What made Nelson Mandela great was precisely what made him human. We saw in him what we seek in ourselves,” Jacob Zuma said.

“Fellow South Africans, Nelson Mandela brought us together and it is together that we will bid him farewell.”

Nelson Mandela was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 and was elected South Africa’s first black president in 1994. He stepped down after five years in office.

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Nelson Mandela is putting up a courageous fight from his “deathbed”, his daughter Makaziwe Mandela says.

Makaziwe Mandela told national broadcaster SABC that the anti-apartheid icon was “still with us, strong, courageous”.

“Even for a lack of a better word… on his deathbed he is teaching us lessons – lessons in patience, in love, lessons of tolerance,” she added.

Nelson Mandela, 95, is receiving home-based medical care.

He was discharged from hospital in September after being treated for nearly three months for a recurring lung infection.

Nelson Mandela is receiving home-based medical care

Nelson Mandela is receiving home-based medical care

Nelson Mandela is widely respected for his role in fighting racism in South Africa, and for forgiving his former white captors after his release from prison in 1990.

He spent 27 years in jail and was elected South Africa’s first black president in 1994. He stepped down after five years in office.

“Every moment I get with him I’m amazed,” Makaziwe Mandela told SABC.

“There are times where I have to pinch myself that I come from this man who is a fighter even though you can see he is struggling, but the fighting spirit is still there with him.”

Nelson Mandela’s grandson, Ndaba Mandela, told SABC that the ex-president was “not doing well in bed”.

Last month, Nelson Mandela’s ex-wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela said he was no longer talking “because of all the tubes that are in his mouth to clear [fluid from] the lungs”.

The South African presidency has repeatedly described Nelson Mandela’s condition as critical but stable.

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Public protector Thuli Madonsela – South Africa’s top corruption fighter – has condemned a newspaper for publishing extracts from her report, which allegedly says President Jacob Zuma should repay $20 million for upgrades to his rural home in Nkandla.

Thuli Madonsela said it was “unethical and unlawful” to publish her report.

According to the Mail and Guardian, Thuli Madonsela said President Jacob Zuma had derived “substantial benefits” from the upgrade.

The government says the improvements were needed for national security.

It has gone to court to block publication of Thuli Madonsela’s report.

Last week, several newspapers defied a government warning not to publish photographs of the residence in Nkandla.

Thuli Madonsela’s reports allegedly says Jacob Zuma home’s upgrades included a visitors' lounge, amphitheatre, cattle enclosure, swimming pool and houses for his relatives

Thuli Madonsela’s reports allegedly says Jacob Zuma home’s upgrades included a visitors’ lounge, amphitheatre, cattle enclosure, swimming pool and houses for his relatives

Opposition parties have condemned it as a waste of public money, while the governing ANC says it believes he has done nothing wrong.

Jacob Zuma’s office has declined to comment on the Mail and Guardian article.

The newspaper says it has had “direct access” to the provisional report by Thuli Madonsela, the public protector.

It said the upgrades included a visitors’ lounge, amphitheatre, cattle enclosure, swimming pool and houses for the president’s relatives.

The newspaper said it published the article because “all the evidence points to a systematic attempt by the government to shield disclosures about the scandal from public view”.

“There are good reasons for fearing that the security ministers who tried to interdict Madonsela earlier this month may be planning further litigation to block its release,” it said.

Thuli Madonsela has distanced herself from the article and the quotes that have been attributed to her, saying that the final report would be released in about a month.

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Most of South African newspapers have published images of President Jacob Zuma’s private residence in Nkandla, defying a government warning that this would break security laws.

Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla residence is at the centre of a row after it emerged that the government had used $20 million of taxpayers’ money to refurbish it.

Cabinet ministers on Thursday said anyone who published images or footage of the estate would face arrest.

A group of South African editors described the warning as “absurd”.

The Times newspaper has the headline “So, arrest us”, above a picture of the luxury thatched-roof compound.

The Star newspaper has a photo of the homestead with a big red cross over it and the caption: “Look away! What ministers don’t want you to see“.

The upgrades to Jacob Zuma’s private residence include a helipad and an underground bunker, which the government says are needed for security reasons.

Jacob Zuma's Nkandla residence is at the centre of a row after it emerged that the government had used $20 million of taxpayers' money to refurbish it

Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla residence is at the centre of a row after it emerged that the government had used $20 million of taxpayers’ money to refurbish it

The contract is being investigated by South Africa’s public protector, or anti-corruption watchdog, Thuli Madonsela, amid allegations that costs were inflated, and that the renovations went far beyond what the rules allow for a politician’s private home.

Earlier this month, security ministers went to court to try to block Thuli Madonsela from publishing her report.

State Security Minister Siyabonga Cwele on Thursday warned newspapers: “No-one, including those in the media, is allowed to take images and publicize images even pointing where the possible security features are.”

“It is not done anywhere. We have not seen the images of the White House showing where the security features are. It is not done in any democracy.”

Following the publication of the photos, the government has issued a statement, saying that newspapers are within their rights to publish photos of the estate but “zooming into safety and security features… is a challenge as it compromises national security”.

The newspaper editors say the public paid for the upgrades and have a right to see how their money was spent.

The warning has created public outrage, with many expressing their dissatisfaction on Twitter and also posting pictures of the home.

The main opposition has lambasted the upgrade and called for investigations into why so much was spent and whether Jacob Zuma was aware of the cost burden to the state.

The Democratic Alliance has always insisted that the upgrade was not only morally wrong and unjustifiable given the country’s social needs, but that it is also possibly illegal.

Other opposition parties have called it an abuse of state funds.

They also want to know why Jacob Zuma’s home was classified as a place of national security, despite being a private residence.

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A roof collapsed at the construction site of a South African shopping mall killing one person, officials say.

About 50 others are feared trapped at the construction site.

Rescue teams are working in the dark and are using sniffer dogs to look for survivors beneath the rubble at the site in Tongaat, north of Durban.

About 30 people had been taken to hospital – some with massive traumatic injuries, paramedics say.

Officials said those trapped were construction workers.

Rescue teams are working in the dark and are using sniffer dogs to look for survivors beneath the rubble at the site in Tongaat

Rescue teams are working in the dark and are using sniffer dogs to look for survivors beneath the rubble at the site in Tongaat

The deputy mayor of the municipality told South African media that authorities had obtained an injunction a month ago to halt construction at the site.

“There are areas of the law that they [construction firms] did not follow in terms of building,” Nomvuzo Shabalala told broadcaster ENCA.

“We were not aware that they were continuing building,” she added.

Chris Botha, from the ambulance company Netcare 911, said it was too early to know the cause of the collapse.

The accident happened around 16:30 local time.

About 100 rescue workers are at the scene, where hydraulic equipment is being used to break through the concrete blocks.

Tongaat is a small town about 25 miles north of Durban and has a large South African Asian population.

Nearby transport routes to Tongaat had been affected as the main road through the town has been shut to traffic and trains have been stopped.

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