The six-month mourning period for late South African president Nelson Mandela ended on Sunday.

Family members gathered in Qunu, Eastern Cape Province to mark the end of the mourning period six months after Mandela was buried on Dec 15.

A cleansing ceremony was performed in Qunu, where Mandela was buried. Traditional beet and meat were served during the ceremony, according to the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC).

Two cows and four sheep have been ritually slaughtered to mark the end of the mourning period.

Elders of the family addressed the gathering, paying tribute to Mandela for his outstanding achievements.

Since Mandela’s death, his wife Graca Machel and ex-wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela have been wearing black and have not been allowed to make public appearances as a sign of mourning.

Mandela came from the Xhosa tribe. According to Xhosa tradition, the mourning period takes 12 months as a sign of respect for the dead. But in Mandela’s case, it was reportedly agreed to shorten the mourning period to six months.

Speaking on behalf of the Mandela family, Daludumo Mtirara says the two wives are now free to serve the people of South Africa and the continent without any hindrance.

Mtirara says: “These elders must go back and start to serve the communities because this is what Madiba was always telling us.

“So they must also start where Madiba left and continue to make sure that they make value to the people of South Africa and make sure that we make the people of South Africa proud that this icon has left us with vigilant and strong wives.”

AbaThembu King Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo says the mourning period and the end of it has a significance role in reaffirming the relationship between the wives and the family of the Dlomo clan.

He says: “We also do confirm and accept our grannies Graca and Winnie that they are still wives of the Dlomo clan not necessarily their late husband.

“We care there to give them as much support as we can as long as they still remain with us till death do them apart.”

The first democratic president of South Africa died in his home in Houghton, Johannesburg last year in December. Mandela, who was 95-years-old, passed away in his sleep after a long illness.

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