PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe was welcomed with loud cheers when he was introduced at the official memorial service of former South African President Nelson Mandela at the giant FNB Stadium in Soweto yesterday.
Mugabe, who arrived after proceedings had started, received loud applause when his name was mentioned and he was shown on the large screen sitting between his wife Grace and daughter Bona.
Grace tapped Mugabe and showed him that they were on the stadium’s large screen and he pumped his trademark fist salute drawing more cheers from the crowd.
However, the loudest applause and cheers erupted as people saw United States President Barack Obama for the first time on the large screen seated among the dignitaries.
Obama, who arrived almost an hour into the ceremony, was further greeted with prolonged roaring applause by the crowd as he made his way to the podium to deliver his address.
Former President Thabo Mbeki also received a hero’s welcome with the crowd rising to its feet and chanting his name.
In large contrast, President Jacob Zuma received a hostile reception from the crowd which booed and jeered him as he made his entrance and every time he was shown on the big screen.
Some people in the crowd made player-substituting gestures with their hands, indicating they wanted change.
Organisers of the event resorted to switching off the giant stadium screen in a bid to curb the increasing unruliness from the crowd.