South African President Jacob Zuma is expected to leave for Cuba later Tuesday ahead of the the funeral of the late Cuban leader, Fidel Castro, on Sunday. He will be accompanied by a high-level government and African National Congress (ANC) party delegation.

A South African Communist Party (SACP) delegation is also expected to attend the funeral at Santiago de Cuba, south of the capital, Havana.

On Wednesday, Zuma will address a rally in Havana at the request of the Cuban government.

Preparations are underway for giant rallies in honour of the late Cuban leader to be held in Havana's Revolution Square.

Havana will also hold a commemoration which would have been unthinkable at the outset of the Cuban revolution -- Catholic faithful mourning his death. "I grew up in Havana, but everyone is feeling this because it was like he was father to the whole world," said a mourner.

"This was something that had to happen because he was 90 years old, but well, you never hope for this from someone you appreciate, not just for what he did, but for the way he was," said another.

Castro was demonised by the United States and its allies, but admired by many leftists around the world. He ended years of corrupt rule in Cuba and ushered in an era of universal access to education, health and housing.

To others, Castro turned Cuba into the world's largest open air prison, with all forms of dissent stifled and travel, business and freedom of thought forbidden.

In South Africa, people have been reflecting on the legacy of Fidel Castro. The Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (POPCRU) General Secretary, Nkosinathi Theledi, remembers Castro's contributions.

"Cubans contributed immensely in reversing the ill gains of THE apartheid regime which changed the regime attitudes in defining the southern African region politically and economically."


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