Pretoria - Mourners who gathered in Pretoria to see the body of former president Nelson Mandela lying in state on Thursday, described him as a beacon of selflessness, equality and transparency.
Thousands of people endured the scorching sun at the Tshwane Events Centre in Pretoria West, hoping to bid farewell to the globally renowned statesman.
“This is the only chance for me to bid farewell to a former president who lived up to the expectations of the people. It is our duty to be here as patriots, as people who recognise his efforts and commitment to our country,” said Donald Somo.
Somo, a lawyer with the Legal Aid Board, said he had been inspired by Mandela to adopt the values of discipline, community service and tolerance.
“Our leaders should take a leaf from Mandela's book regarding his vision of batho pele (people first) in everything. I have learnt about accountability and integrity from Mandela.
“I have learnt that not all things should be about me. It should be about the next person, my neighbour and everyone else,” said Somo.
Buses were collecting mourners from the Tshwane Events Centre, a designated park-and-ride facility, and bringing them to the Union Buildings.
Across town, hundreds of cars formed a long queue outside the Fountains Valley park-and-ride facility. Tshepo Sibayi, who was singing struggle songs with his Soshanguve neighbours, doubted whether he would get to see Mandela's body.
“It is my second day and it is not easy. I am sure this viewing arrangement could be better arranged in many ways. I am starting to think thousands like myself will be denied a chance to see Madiba.
“I am frustrated because I spend the little money I have to come here, but don't get to see what I came for,” Sibayi said.
At the Union Buildings, Celeste van Tonder, who had travelled from Durban, felt honoured to have had the chance to see Mandela's body.
“This is it, now I have convinced myself that indeed Tata is gone. I came all the way just to do that.
“What is left now is to live in the legacy that Madiba has shown us. As a citizen, I expect nothing less from the current government. They should foster unity and transparency, just as Mandela did.”
Mandela died at his Houghton, Johannesburg, home last Thursday at the age of 95.
He will be buried on Sunday.