Pretoria booms as crowds flock for Mandela

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NelsonMandelaLine

Reuters.

People wait in a bus line to pay their respects to former South African President Nelson Mandela in Pretoria December 13, 2013. Thousands of people lined up to say goodbye to Mandela, whose body lay in state in the building where the anti-apartheid hero was inaugurated in 1994 as South Africa's first black president.

Pretoria - Hundreds of hungry mourners flocked to a nearby fast food restaurant in Arcadia, Pretoria, on Friday to grab breakfast on the final day of viewing former president Nelson Mandela's body lying in state at the Union Buildings.

Thousand of people stood in long winding queues leading to the Union Buildings' newly named Nelson Mandela Amphitheatre.

The restaurant, situated along Hamilton Street, saw customers queuing as far as the parking lot, eager to buy food.

Inside, the staff looked exhausted.

“My shift started last night, we had a lot of customers coming in even after midnight. Some slept in their cars in the parking lot so that they could start queuing very early,” said a waiter.

Among those in line to get breakfast was Martin McKenzie, who flew in from London on Thursday to view Mandela's remains.

“I had to come, the man is one of the best human beings we have ever had this century,” said McKenzie as he dragged his luggage along the queue.

Outside the restaurant, police kept an eye on the queues in the streets.

At the Union Buildings, groups of people wore T-shirts of various political parties, including the ANC, Agang SA, and the Economic Freedom Fighters.

Crowds of people danced and sang songs about Mandela and fellow struggle stalwart Oliver Tambo.

“(It was) very, very sad... was the first time seeing him. Glad, I had my moment,” said Mole Kotjokoane from Centurion after she got a chance to view the body.

The global statesman's body is positioned in a coffin with a glass casing over it. Mandela was dressed in the same black and gold Indonesian print shirt he had been clad in since viewing began on Wednesday.

A calm atmosphere reigned at the Union Buildings, with people noticeably quieter after they exited the viewing area.

After lying in state for the third and final day on Friday, Mandela's body will be transported to his boyhood village of Qunu in the Eastern Cape. His state funeral will take place on Sunday.

Mandela died last week on Thursday at his home in Houghton, Johannesburg, aged 95. - Sapa


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