Not waiting for the formal services and ceremonies to begin, South Africans mourned Nelson Mandela's passing with tributes around the nation Saturday, including at the foot of his statue in a modern commercial development here.
Grieving countrymen of all colors dropped off fresh flowers, some in elaborate bouquets, along with photographs, messages and other mementos paying tribute to Mandela, whose passing at age 95 is regarded as a deeply personal loss by many South Africans.
"We lost our daddy, mother, granddaddy. For us, he was everything," said Rita Hlathi, 53, who came with a friend to pay tribute to the former president and leader of the long struggle to strike down the country's former official system of apartheid.
"I love Mandela," she said. "I wish I could find someone like him."