“You must go to the polls united next year,” Chief Apostle of the 12 Apostles Church, Caesar Nongqunga, told about 6000 people at the Ngangelizwe Rotary Stadium.
ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe sat listening in the shade on the stage that had been set up on the pitch, sipping water.
Addressing Mantashe, Nongqunga said the ruling party had a problem with corrupt officials, but that corrupt people were everywhere, even in the churches.
“I don’t think there is any party who does not have corrupt members… We have a challenge. First we must heal each other…. We do love you [the ANC], we just want to see you united.”
He said he was tired of people insulting each other. Turning his attention to Mandela, Nongqunga said the world was mourning a great man.
“We must mourn the passing of a great man by you becoming all that you can be. Peace has got the power, it can change everything.”
Dressed in a black suit, white shirt and black, white and grey tie, Mantashe arrived at 10.45am escorted by church officials and his guards. He shook a few hands before taking his place on the stage.
After Nongqunga’s sermon people stood to pray.
Young and old filled the stands at stadium, three tents, or sat on the grass on the pitch, sheltering from the Eastern Cape heat under colourful umbrellas. A long red carpet ran from the middle of the field to the main stage.
Most of the women and girls wore white shirts or tops and blue skirts. Many of the men were clad in blue suits and white shirts.
The service was one of three on Sunday expected to be attended by ANC members in the province. Eastern Cape premier Noxolo Kiviet was also present.
Mandela died aged 95 at his Houghton, Johannesburg, home on Thursday. He would be buried in Qunu next Sunday.