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'Madiba statue to remind SA of ubuntu'

The nine-metre tall bronze statue shows Madiba smiling with his arms stretched out.

The nine-metre tall statue of former president Nelson Mandela unveiled on 13 December 2013. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN

PRETORIA - The newly unveiled statue of late former president Nelson Mandela will remind South Africans of the values of reconciliation, compassion and _ubuntu, _President Jacob Zuma said on Monday.

He made the comments at the unveiling at Union Buildings in Pretoria.

The nine-metre tall bronze statue shows Madiba smiling with his arms stretched out.

Speaking to people gathered for the unveiling, Zuma also said the Union Buildings have been declared a national heritage site.

The president said the statue will forever remind South Africans of Madiba's towering vision, stature and his commitment to improving the quality of life of all citizens.

Mandela was laid to rest in Qunu in the Eastern Cape on Sunday.

He died at his Johannesburg home on 5 December following a battle with a recurring lung infection.

Madiba's grandson, Mandla, said it is befitting that the statue is unveiled on the centenary of the Union Buildings - the place where Mandela was sworn in as the first democratically elected president almost 20 years ago.

Meanwhile, hundreds of people have been reflecting on Madiba's legacy at the Union Buildings, where the father of the nation lay in state for three days last week.

The streets surrounding the area are filled with parked cars.

Thousands of people are here to celebrate Reconciliation Day with family members and friends.

They say being here is better than sitting at home or having a braai.

Members of the ANC Women's League and the Youth League are also at the Union Buildings, dressed in the ruling party's symbolic black, green and gold.

Earlier the crowd broke into song when a black sheet was removed from a towering figure, unveiling the statue in Mandela's honour.