Mandla staying at Madiba’s side

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The body of the late Nelson Mandela arrives, carried by military personnel and followed by Mandela's grandson Mandla, at the Union Buildings in Pretoria on December 12, 2013. Picture: Yves Herman

Pretoria -

Former president Nelson Mandela's grandson Mandla has not left his grandfather's side since Wednesday morning, when his body was brought to the amphitheatre at the Union Buildings, in Pretoria, to lie in state.

A tired-looking Mandla Mandela looked on as the public filed past Mandela's body, paying their last respects.

Earlier, the family said it would follow tradition and not leave Mandela's body alone before burial.

Mandela's body would be transported back to 1 Military Hospital at 5.30pm on Thursday.

Friday is be the final day he lies in state at the site where he was inaugurated as South Africa's first democratically-elected president in 1994.

The last of the mourners were still queueing to see his body on Thursday afternoon.

The park-and-ride facilities for the viewing closed shortly after 3pm after reaching full capacity.

The City of Tshwane said over 20 000 people queued on Thursday.

Government spokeswoman Phumla Williams said between 12 000 and 14 000 people visited the Union Buildings on Wednesday, the first day Mandela's body lay in state.

People quietly passed the body on Thursday, some of them visibly emotional after seeing Mandela's body. He was wearing a black and gold Madiba shirt.

Mandela died at his home in Johannesburg last Thursday at the age of 95.

He will be buried in Qunu, in the Eastern Cape, on Sunday. - Sapa

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