Mourners won't leave park-and-ride facilities

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Copy of ca p2 friday Mandela Queue DONE

REUTERS

Cops were sent to park-and-ride facilities in Pretoria after people refused to leave, despite transport to the Union Buildings being stopped. Photo: Kevin Coombs

Johannesburg - Police were sent to park-and-ride facilities in Pretoria on Friday afternoon after members of the public refused to leave, despite transport to the Union Buildings being shut down.

Thousands of people, waiting at the Pretoria showgrounds to be taken to view former president Nelson Mandela's body lying in state at the seat of government, pointed umbrellas and fingers at metro police when told the number of people able to be processed at the venue had reached capacity.

“We tried telling them this park-and-ride is closed, but they won't listen,” said a metro policeman stationed at the showgrounds.

Six police cars arrived at the venue shortly after.

Meanwhile, at the Union Buildings, streams of people were still making their way on foot to the site for viewing the struggle icon's body.

This despite a request by government communication services for members of the public not go to the Union Buildings, but rather find different ways to say goodbye to Mandela.

Mounted police tried to gently push the people back.

The lines of people filing past Mandela's coffin continued smoothly.

Government communications chief policy and research director Tasneem Carrim said estimates suggested that just before 11am, two people were viewing the body every three seconds, but it appeared the lines were moving even faster on Friday.

By 7.30am, 25 000 people had gathered at the Pretoria Showgrounds park-and-ride, 10 000 at the Fountains Valley Circle, 8000 at the Union Buildings, and 7000 at the LC de Villiers Sports Centre.

“Everyone hopes for a personal chance to say goodbye, but it's not always possible,” said Carrim.

Friday is the third and final day in which Mandela's body will lie in state. Thereafter it will be transported to Qunu, where a state funeral will take place on Sunday in the rural area in which Mandela spent much of his childhood.

He died last Thursday at his home in Houghton, Johannesburg, at the age of 95.

Sapa


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