Pretoria: The body of South Africa's anti- apartheid legend Nelson Mandela was taken to a military hospital here on Friday as preparations for the December 15 state funeral of the peace icon began.
Mandela, South Africa's liberation hero and the first democratically elected president, died early on Friday at his home in Johannesburg after battling a protracted illness.
Escorted by military motorcycle outriders, a black SUV carried Mandela's coffin, draped in South Africa's flag, to the military hospital's morgue from his home.
Mandela will lie in state at the seat of government, the Union Buildings, in the capital city of Pretoria.
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In a television address to the nation, South African President Jacob Zuma said Mandela would be laid to rest on December 15 at Qunu in Eastern Cape province.
Funeral will draw a galaxy of leaders and other dignitaries from across the world.
Zuma, who earlier announced the demise of the 95-year-old Nobel laureate, ordered that all flags of the country fly at half-mast and remain that way until after the burial ceremony, the South African Government News Agency reported.
Mandela almost three months in hospital this year after being admitted to the Medi-Clinic Heart Hospital in June with a recurring lung infection.
He was discharged in September and was receiving home-based medical care.
India to send high-level delegation to Mandela's funeral
New Delhi: India will be represented by a 'high-level' delegation at the funeral of South African anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela who died early morning in Johannesburg, the Ministry of External Affairs said on Friday.
"Both Prime Minister and President have indicated the reverence that we in India hold Nelson Mandela in. His death is not only a loss for South Africa but for Indiaand the world too. It is certain that a very high-level delegation will go from India," spokesperson in MEA said.
"There is still some time between the funeral is officially held and visiting dignitaries are being asked to attend that...Our High Commission is in touch with South African government (on the issue)...," he added.
The anti-apartheid icon served as President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999 and was recipient of the Bharat Ratna,India's highest civilian award and a well-known Gandhian.
In his condolence message, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh described his as a "giant among men" who not only represented the conscience of the world, but also remained a beacon of hope for those struggling against oppression and injustice long after he had led his own people to victory over such ills."
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