Thousands queue to view Madiba

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Copy of Copy of APTOPIX South Africa Mandela Mourning~5 [1]

Pretoria - A winding queue formed outside the Union Buildings in Pretoria as people gathered to view the body of former president Nelson Mandela lying in state on Wednesday.

The queue was growing rapidly as members of the Tshwane metro police directed it.

Some people used umbrellas to shield themselves from the sun.

Political party T-shirts of the ANC and Agang SA were in evidence.

Tshepiso Matema said she had travelled from Soweto “to see history being made”.

“There is no other place to be besides the Union Buildings today, in the whole South Africa. We want to see our old man,” said Matema.

Before midday, some people were complaining about the slow movement of the queue into the Union Buildings.

“I don't know how our government plans, but this queuing arrangement is bound to become chaotic. The buses are not very frequent and very soon thousands of people will become restless,” said Irvin Lesetja from Mamelodi.

Hundreds of police officers were standing near the long queue.

Nelson Mandela's family, local politicians and foreign leaders were the first to view his open casket at the Union Buildings on Wednesday, bidding a solemn, sometimes tearful farewell.

Her head bowed, his widow Graca Machel walked a few steps behind President Jacob Zuma after pausing at her husband's coffin, resting on a platform in the amphitheatre outside the seat of government.

She was followed by his ex-wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and her daughters, before former presidents Thabo Mbeki and FW de Klerk paid their respects.

De Klerk's wife Elita dabbed away tears, as did Mandela's personal assistant of 18 years, Zelda la Grange, who clutched the hand of U2 singer Bono as she made her way to the casket.

Former Zambian president Kenneth Kaunda was the first of a contingent of African dignitaries to pay their final respects to Mandela. They included Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, Nigeria's Goodluck Jonathan and Liberia's Ellen Sirleaf Johnson.

Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe was followed by Planning Minister Trevor Manuel and his wife Maria Ramos, before other Cabinet ministers and Democratic Alliance leader Helen Zille viewed the casket.

Meanwhile transport for mourners to the Union Buildings in Pretoria has been delayed at the Hatfield park-and-ride centre, police said.

Brooklyn station commander Brigadier Andre Wiese said that the viewing had been delayed by an hour.

Members of the public would be able to view the body from only 1pm.

It was believed the early morning procession bearing the body through Pretoria had caused the delay.

The first bus was meant to leave the centre at midday.

The number of mourners at Hatfield swelled to about 2 500 by 11.30am.

Wiese said that although the crowd had grown, it was calm.

He said there was not enough time to accommodate everyone for viewing on Wednesday.

He could not estimate how many bus trips would have to be made to take the number of people present. It would depend on how long the bus took for each trip. - Sapa

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