Soweto Madiba mourners welcome rain

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People sing and dance during a gathering of mourners on Vilakazi Street in Soweto, where Nelson Mandela once resided.

Some of the people who gathered on Vilakazi Street in Soweto to commemorate the life of Nelson Mandela said they welcomed the rain as it started to drizzle on Friday afternoon.

Former president Mandela and his ex-wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela once lived at house number 8115 on Vilakazi Street.

The house, which is now a museum, attracted hundreds of locals and tourists following the death of Mandela on Thursday night.

“Culturally, for us, it's a good thing when it rains. It shows that something good has happened and Tata is resting,” said Nhlanhla Mondlane.

She and her friends, who wore ANC and Mandela T-shirts, said they had come to the house to pay their last respects.

A group of youths helping people park their cars said the rain would not make them budge.

“Today is my jackpot day, angiyi ndawo suster (I'm not going anywhere, sister),” one of them said, as he assisted someone out of a parking spot.

While it seemed like a celebration of Mandela's life along the street, one tourist, who had a camera hanging from a strap around her neck, removed her glasses and wiped tears from her face as she stood next to a picture of Mandela outside the museum.

She was too distraught to speak to the media.

Earlier, street vendors selling ANC T-shirts and Mandela hats, banners and flags, said business was booming.

“Business is better today than on any other day,” said vendor Tshepo Mogapi.

He said he and his partner Sifiso Madonsela had sold T-shirts on the street since 2007.

“T-shirts with Mandela's face and the ANC logo are in the greatest demand,” said Madonsela.

Another vendor, Sam Sithole, who had set up his stall on the other side of the road, said it was not such a productive day for him.

“We feel irrelevant because everyone wants something with Mandela on it.” Sithole sells T-shirts with the word “Soweto” written on them.

Other vendors were selling food, drinks, sweets and ice-cream.

Children also joined in the celebration of Mandela's life.

A group of them carried posters depicting Mandela's face.

The joined the adults who sang struggle songs and marched and danced along the street.

Mandela, 95, died in his home in Houghton, Johannesburg, on Thursday night.

Earlier this year, he spent almost three months at the Medi-Clinic Heart Hospital with a recurring lung condition and was later sent home for intensive care treatment. -Sapa

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