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updated: 12/7/2013 10:30 AM

Nelson Mandela family: 'We have lost a great man'

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  • A mourner signs the book of condolences at the iconic Regina Mundi church, which became one of the focal points of the anti-apartheid struggle, in Soweto, Johannesburg, South Africa Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013. South Africa is readying itself for the arrival of a flood of world leaders for the funeral and memorial services for former president Nelson Mandela as thousands of mourners continue to flock to sites around the country to pay homage to the freedom struggle icon.

      A mourner signs the book of condolences at the iconic Regina Mundi church, which became one of the focal points of the anti-apartheid struggle, in Soweto, Johannesburg, South Africa Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013. South Africa is readying itself for the arrival of a flood of world leaders for the funeral and memorial services for former president Nelson Mandela as thousands of mourners continue to flock to sites around the country to pay homage to the freedom struggle icon.
    Associated Press

 
Associated Press

JOHANNESBURG -- In their first statement since his death, Nelson Mandela's family says they've "lost a great man, a son of the soil."

Lt. Gen. Temba Templeton Matanzima, a spokesman for the Mandela family, read the statement to journalists Saturday in Johannesburg.

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The statement said: "The pillar of the royal Mandela family is no more with us physically, but his spirit is still with us."

The statement went on: "We have lost a great man, a son of the soil whose greatness in our family was in the simplicity of his nature in our midst -- a caring family leader who made time for all and on that score we will miss him dearly."

Mandela died Thursday at age 95.

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