JSE halts trade for five minutes to honor Mandela, banks to close on day of his funeral

By Rizza Sta. Ana

Dec 06, 2013 09:57 AM EST

On Friday at 11AM in the capital of South Africa, the Johannesburg Stock Exchange stopped trading for five minutes in recognition of former South African President Nelson Mandela, who died Thursday due to a recurring lung illness. Moreover, the Banking Association of South Africa (Basa) made an announcement of the closing of all banks from head officiers to branches in the country on the day of Mandela's funeral.

International Monetary Fund director Christine Lagarde said, "Nelson Mandela was a courageous and visionary leader who enabled his country to confront its past and inspired its people to address an extraordinary set of challenges. He was a man who brought deep principles, skillful diplomacy and quiet dignity to the task of national reconciliation and nation building."

Basa managing director Cas Coovadia said, "South Africa has lost a father and the rest of the world has lost an icon who worked tirelessly to make this a better world. Banks will follow their own processes and procedures to support staff who may want to attend memorials and be absent from work during the dedicated days of mourning," Coovadia said. "It will be at the banks' discretion to remain open on the official days of mourning and state memorial; however, they will continue to provide the necessary support at customer interface levels." Coovadia also said banks have already communicated with their clients regarding the closure order and assured the public that it will provide access to basic services.

JSE head of investor relations Michelle Joubert said the exchange will be guided to any public holidays or days of mourning in the future that will mark the passing of Madiba by the national government. Mandela is also known by his Xhosa clan name Madiba.

Anglo American chief executive Mark Cutifani said, expressing his condolences to the family of the late politician and to the South African people, "He was integral to the ushering of democracy in South Africa, and led the country with distinction, stature and humility during his presidency. (The mining major would) continue to do its utmost to shadow Madiba's legacy".

Analysts doubted that Madiba's passing would sent the markets in South Africa into a tailspin. Nomura's Peter Attard Montalto said, "He was an amazing icon who was both an inspiration yet truly human as well which is why so many people felt such a connection to him. (Madiba had left a) strong enough country with solid foundations. We should dismiss the inevitable doomsayers and expect little market reaction".

Although the rand dove to ZAR10.53 per dollar in preday trading, the currency recovered to ZAR10.43 per dollar by 10AM in South Africa.

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