Acting President Cyril Ramaphosa sat with Ahmed Kathrada, Sophie de Bruyn, Mandla Mandela, Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor, Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini, and Tshwane mayor Kgosientso
Various religious leaders opened the proceedings with prayers.
Ramokgopa welcomed the guests and said Mandela remained a moral compass for the world.
Guests sang “Mandela a gona wa tshwanang le wena [There’s no one like Mandela]” in intervals during the proceedings.
Young people wearing Nelson Mandela Foundation T-shirts praised Mandela’s legacy in poetry, followed by Pitika Ntuli, whose poem also honoured the former president.
Mandela’s former praise singer Zolani Mkiva said Mandela had respected tradition.
“He knew we can never be free if we are not grounded on our heritage. Mandela respected traditional leadership and the African tradition.”
A police band stood by to entertain the guests. Ramaphosa is expected to deliver a speech at the event.
Mandela died at the age of 95 at his home in Houghton, Johannesburg, on December 5 last year.