Madiba lying in state

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The body of the late Nelson Mandela arrives at the Union Buildings in Pretoria, carried by military personnel and followed by members of the Mandela family. Photo: Kim Ludbrook


Pretoria - The body of former president Nelson Mandela was lying in state at the Union Buildings in Pretoria shortly after 8am on Wednesday.

Police formed a guard of honour as the casket was taken from the hearse and carried into the building. People were seen waving flags and singing: “Mandela, my president.”

The coffin had a glass top so that people could view Madiba's body.

Road closures and tight security resulted in media and the public struggling to move to the Union Buildings to watch the event.

The atmosphere was sad, as people arrived to pay their final respects to the father of the nation.

Members of the public shouted and sang as the procession bearing the body of former president Nelson Mandela made its way from 1 Military Hospital.

Andre Coetzee, who was on his way to work, said he intended to turn out for the next three days to say his farewells to Madiba.

“This is an opportunity to share in the compassion and show how we feel.”

He said even the gridlocked traffic had an air of respectful patience because of the reverence of the occasion.

Coetzee said he did not intend to view Mandela's body as he lay in state at the union buildings for the next three days.

“Out of respect, its a personal, cultural [choice], I choose not to see the body.

“I don't want to remember him like that.”

A group of women, who ululated as the procession went by, said they wanted to pay their last respects to Madiba's earthly remains.

“We want to see him to say goodbye,” they said.

Johannes Segooa, who watched from behind the barricades, said he wanted to pay his last respects to Mandela.

"His legacy will last forever as Tata has sacrificed a lot for us," said Segooa.

"He has run his race until the finish line." - Sapa

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