Crowd rushes into Union Buildings

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iol news pic Union Buildings crush


Policemen try to control people queuing to view the body of former president Nelson Mandela, on the last day of Mandela's lying in state at the Union Buildings in Pretoria December 13, 2013. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun

Pretoria - A number of people rushed through a police line at the Union Buildings, in Pretoria, when it was reopened to the public at 4.20pm on Friday after being shut earlier.

At first, the police tried to allow the people in one at a time to view former president Nelson Mandela's body lying in state, but the crowd broke through the police line and began running into the Union Buildings.

The police quickly regained control of the situation.

About an hour earlier, police locked the gates after the government said capacity had been reached for the day.

Disappointed members of the public then gathered on the corner of Madiba street and Government avenue and began singing for Mandela's ex-wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela to help them.

“Winnie Mandela thetha no Zuma a khulul' uMandela” (Winnie tell Zuma to release Mandela.... We want to see Mandela)” sang the crowd.

The third and final day of the public viewing of Mandela's body is scheduled to close at 5.30pm.

Park-and-ride facilities had already closed by mid-morning, by which time tens of thousands of people had made their way to the Union Buildings.

Earlier on Friday afternoon, thousands of people still waiting to view Mandela's body almost caused a stampede at the Tshwane Events Centre.

While people were trying to force their way through the gate, and a seven-year-old child fell and was almost trampled by the angry crowd.

She was rescued, unharmed.

Mandela died at his home in Houghton, Johannesburg, last Thursday, at the age of 95. He will be buried in Qunu, in the Eastern Cape, on Sunday.


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