"The pillar of the royal Mandela family is no more with us physically."
Mzwandile Vena looks at a candle lit for Nelson Mandela. (Photo: AP Photo/Schalk van Zuydam)
JOHANNESBURG (AP) — 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.
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.atlala's disregard for his size and ferocious punching speed made him one of South Africa's favorite athletes. During a 22-year career, he won flyweight and junior flyweight belts for the WBO as well as the IBA light flyweight title and WBU junior flyweight crown.
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