Charlize Theron at Mandela memorial

Charlize Theron

Stars including Charlize Theron and Naomi Campbell attended a memorial service for Nelson Mandela today.

The South African-born actress and British supermodel were close friends of the late political figure and arrived at the FNB Stadium in Soweto to pay tribute.

Charlize was spotted entering the venue flanked by security and blew kisses to the crowds when she arrived inside. The Hollywood star first met the former South African President in 2004, holding his hand as she shed tears. Mandela publicly praised Charlize when she won a best actress Oscar that year and the blonde star was overcome with emotion after coming face-to-face with the inspirational leader. Charlize looked stunning in monochrome at today’s event, choosing a fitted white jacket and black top for the occasion.

Naomi was also present for the memorial at the 95,000 capacity stadium and chose to wear all black. The model has been close to the late anti-apartheid leader since 1993 and organized a star-studded charity fashion show for the Nelson Mandela Children’s fund in 1998.

Naomi was often referred to by Mandela as his “honorary granddaughter” and she released an emotional statement when his death was announced last Friday.

“I join everyone across the world in mourning his passing. However, he was much more than just a figurehead to me – he was my mentor, my honorary grandfather, my Tata,” she said. “Since meeting him in 1993, he guided me and gave me a reason for being in the tough times of my life. He changed my perception of the world.”

U2 singer Bono was also spotted in the crowd today and spent time chatting to Charlize. Bono, who was accompanied by his wife Ali Hewson, paid tribute to Mandela with an article called ‘My friend Nelson Mandela, the man who could not cry’ in an Irish newspaper earlier this week.

Talk show host Oprah Winfrey had been expected to attend the service, but was not present.

A host of current and past world leaders made it to the ceremony, including US President Barack Obama. He hailed Mandela as a “giant of history” during his speech at the ceremony.

The event began with South Africa’s national anthem, with crowds pouring into the stadium from early this morning undeterred by the rain.

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