* Some worry his death might stir racial tensions
* Tutu calls for "united" South Africa to honour Mandela
* Mandela's absence could hurt ANC in long term -analyst
* Flags fly at half mast, state funeral planned
By Peroshni Govender and Pascal Fletcher
JOHANNESBURG, Dec 6 South Africans united in
mourning for Nelson Mandela on Friday, but some feared the
anti-apartheid hero's death could leave their country vulnerable
again to racial and social tensions that he did so much to
As dawn broke and commuters headed to work, many expressed
shock at the passing of a man who was a global symbol of
reconciliation and peaceful co-existence.
South Africans heard President Jacob Zuma tell them late on
Thursday that the former president and Nobel Peace Prize
laureate passed away peacefully at his Johannesburg home in the
company of his family after a long illness.
Despite reassurances from leaders and public figures that
Mandela's passing, while sorrowful, would not halt South
Africa's advance away from its bitter apartheid past, some still
expressed a sense of unease about the physical absence of a man
famed as a peacemaker.
"It's not going to be good, hey! I think it's going to
become a more racist country. People will turn on each other and
chase foreigners away," said Sharon Qubeka, 28, a secretary from
Tembisa township as she headed to work in Johannesburg.
"Mandela was the only one who kept things together," she
Flags flew at half mast as South Africa entered a period of
mourning leading up to a planned state funeral next week.
Many attended church services, including another veteran
anti-apartheid campaigner, former Archbishop of Cape Town
Desmond Tutu. He said that like all South Africans he was
"devastated" by Mandela's death.
"Let us give him the gift of a South Africa united, one,"
Tutu said, holding a mass in Cape Town's Anglican St George's
In a sign that business would largely go on as usual, the
Johannesburg Stock Exchange said it would pause trade
for only five minutes at 11 a.m. (0900 GMT) on Friday to mark
An avalanche of tributes continued to pour in for Mandela,
who had been ailing for nearly a year with a recurring lung
illness dating back to the 27 years he spent in apartheid jails,
including the notorious Robben Island penal colony.
U.S. President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David
Cameron were among world leaders and dignitaries who paid
fulsome tribute to him as a moral giant and exemplary beacon for
American talk show host Oprah Winfrey added her voice to the
tributes, saying Mandela "will always be my hero".
But for South Africa, the loss of its most beloved leader
comes at a time when the nation, which basked in global goodwill
after apartheid ended, has been experiencing bloody labour
unrest, growing protests against poor services, poverty, crime
and unemployment and corruption scandals tainting Zuma's rule.
Many saw today's South Africa - the African continent's
biggest economy but also one of the world's most unequal -
still distant from being the "Rainbow Nation" ideal of social
peace and shared prosperity that Mandela had proclaimed on his
triumphant release from prison in 1990.
"I feel like I lost my father, someone who would look out
for me. Already as a black person with no connections you are
disadvantaged," said Joseph Nkosi, 36, a security guard from
Alexandra township in Johannesburg.
Referring to Mandela by his clan name, he added: "Now
without Madiba I feel like I don't have a chance. The rich will
get richer and simply forget about us. The poor don't matter to
them. Look at our politicians, they are nothing like Madiba."
'LIFE WILL CARRY ON'
Just hours after the news of Mandela's death, Tutu had
sought to assuage fears that the absence of South Africa's first
black president, who steered the country to democracy, might
revive some of the violent ghosts of apartheid.
"To suggest that South Africa might go up in flames - as
some have predicted - is to discredit South Africans and
Madiba's legacy," Tutu said in a statement on Thursday.
"The sun will rise tomorrow, and the next day and the next
... It may not appear as bright as yesterday, but life will
carry on," Tutu said.
Zuma and his ruling African National Congress face
presidential and legislative elections next year which are
expected to reveal widespread discontent among voters about
persisting poverty and unemployment two decades after the end of
But the former liberation movement is expected to maintain
its predominance in South African politics.
"It is painful losing him but the ANC is going to stay
strong and be dominant. The party is powerful and will stay in
power," said office worker Tumi Matshidiso, 27.
Mark Rosenberg, Senior Africa Analyst at the Eurasia Group,
said that while Mandela's death might even give the ANC a
sympathy-driven boost for elections due next year, it would hurt
the party in the long term.
He saw Mandela's absence "sapping the party's historical
legitimacy and encouraging rejection by voters who believe the
ANC has failed to deliver on its economic promises and become
mired in corruption."
Although Zuma's initial announcement of Mandela's death left
the country hushed, later a crowd gathered overnight outside
Mandela's old house in Vilakazi Street, Soweto, to sing songs in
"Mandela you brought us peace" was one of the songs.
DEMOCRATIC MODEL FOR AFRICA
Mandela rose from rural obscurity to challenge the might of
white minority rule - a struggle that gave the 20th century one
of its most respected and loved figures.
He was among the first to advocate armed resistance to
apartheid in 1960 but was quick to preach reconciliation and
forgiveness when the country's white minority began easing its
grip on power 30 years later.
He was elected president in landmark all-race elections in
1994 after helping to steer the racially divided country towards
reconciliation and away from civil war.
"His greatest legacy is that we are basically at peace with
each other," F.W. de Klerk, the white Afrikaner president who
released Mandela in 1990, told the BBC in an interview.
Mandela was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993, an honour
he shared with de Klerk. Reacting to his death, the Nobel
Committee said Mandela would remain one of the greatest
laureates in the history of the prize.
In 1999, Mandela handed over power to younger leaders better
equipped to manage a modern economy - a rare voluntary departure
from power cited as an example to African leaders.
This made him an exception on a continent with a bloody
history of long-serving autocrats and violent coups.