Nelson Mandela’s final hours
South African president Jacob Zuma said the 95-year-old, who was transferred home by ambulance in August to spend his final weeks there, had 'passed on peacefully in the company of his family'.
Mandela's third wife, Graca Machel, 68, is believed to have been by his side, as well as some of his children, grandchildren, stepchildren, a priest, and elders from his native Thembu tribe.
But there was no sign of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, Mandela's second wife who married him in 1958 and stood by him throughout his 27 years in jail before the 38-year marriage ended bitterly in 1996.
The former president's condition had fluctuated since June, when he was admitted to hospital suffering from an infection and it was widely feared he was close to death.
His condition improved enough for him to be allowed home, where his bedroom had been adapted into what was said to resemble an intensive care unit.
Last month Mrs Madikizela-Mandela said her former husband had beaten a bout of pneumonia but was still 'quite ill' and was unable to speak because of tubes inserted into his lungs to clear them of liquid.
She said he was using facial expressions to communicate, and said the house had to be kept sterile to ensure the infection did not recur.
This week Mandela's condition again deteriorated, and he was reported to be on life support and unconscious as the end neared.
|The body of Nelson Mandela left his home in Johannesburg this morning|