IOM’s Director General joins world leaders paying tribute to Nelson Mandela


South Africa - IOM today joins the global community in paying tribute to global icon, Nelson Mandela, with its Director General William Lacy Swing joining thousands of global dignitaries who have come to South Africa to pay last respects to the legendary South African leader.

Ambassador Swing, who worked closely with Mandela when he was US ambassador to South Africa from 1989 to 1992, will attend today the official memorial service to be held at the FNB Stadium near Soweto in Gauteng, the site of Nelson Mandela’s first speech in Johannesburg after his release from prison. Bidding farewell to a man dubbed as the most extraordinary liberation leader of Africa, Swing will also attend the public viewing ceremony on the 11th at the Union Buildings, the South Africa government house in Pretoria.

“We have lost a true leader; a beacon of true transformation, hope and humanity. I have had the privilege to meet Mandela during my term as the United States Ambassador to South Africa. I remember his warmth, modesty and friendliness, qualities that were infectious and continue to inspire our work in achieving a free, peaceful, and united global community,” says Swing.

“We are exceptionally privileged to have had such an inspirational and courageous leader – may his strong legacy of courage, integrity and generosity continue to live eternally and transform all four corners of the world,” adds Swing.

Ambassador Swing will join more than 90 Heads of State and Government and their representatives, as well as royalty travelling to South Africa to pay last respects to the late Former President Nelson Mandela. Delegations from the United Nations, the African Union and European Union will also attend the memorial service.

Ambassador Swing extends his condolences to Mandela’s family. “Just as the world has undeniably benefited from his remarkable work, the world now stands by his family. Our prayers and deepest sympathies go out to his dear spouse Grace Machel, his family and South Africans at large.”

“Nelson Mandela’s ultimate vision to bring justice, liberty and equality not only in South Africa but worldwide has been an inspiration for all international organizations, including IOM. The standards he set for himself were no doubt very high –  he placed a huge burden on his shoulders; he built a progressive nation out of racial and social discrimination through peaceful and constructive reconciliation. IOM, through Mandela’s legacy vows to continue to strive for equality, freedom, human right, and peace for all humankind,” he concluded.

Mandela’s body will finally be laid to rest on Sunday 15 December in his home village of Qunu, in the Eastern Cape Province.

For more information, please contact

Gaone Dixon
IOM South Africa Media and Communication officer
Email: [email protected]
Tel: +27 12 342 2782


Leonard Doyle
IOM Acting Chief of Information
Email: [email protected]
Tel: +41.22.717 9486
Mobile: +41 79 285 7123