Pretoria - Trainee police officers were bused to the Medi-Clinic Heart Hospital in Pretoria on Tuesday to lay flowers and offer their well-wishes to critically ill former president Nelson Mandela.
They arrived in a marked bus which blocked a part of Park Street, and made their way to the entrance in Celliers Street.
Some of their messages quoted Bible verses. A tribute read: “We as members of the SA Police Service (SAPS) believe there is healing in Jesus, and we trust he will heal our beloved Madiba.”
SAPS Academy commander Brigadier Noma Binqela said the gesture was intended to extend sympathy and well-wishes to Mandela.
“We wanted them (trainees) to see that we are not only police officers for crime, but we are part of the community of this country. The flowers are the only way we can show our appreciation to our former president,” she said.
“It is something we can leave behind and say we were there. For them also, it's a big issue as trainees to be part of what the country is going through.”
Meanwhile, Mandela's ex-wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela arrived shortly after 12.30pm with her daughter Zindzi Mandela-Motlhajwa.
Other relatives were in a meeting called by some of Mandela's children at his home in Qunu, in the Eastern Cape.
Among those at the homestead were Mandla Mandela, Thanduxolo Mandela, Ndaba Mandela and Ndileka Mandela.
Family elder Napilisi Mandela confirmed that the meeting would discuss delicate matters pertaining to the anti-apartheid icon.
Just before 10.30am on Tuesday, a black Jeep was let into the hospital's Park Street entrance without being searched.
Cars with military registration plates and those carrying Mandela family members, politicians and government officials were the only vehicles allowed onto the premises without first being searched.
Businessman Calvern Hugo released about 60 white doves near the Celliers Street entrance, in recognition of Mandela's contribution to the country's freedom.
“It was a few minutes of sacrifice that we took out of our busy schedules to say thank you for the sacrifices he took for the nation as a whole,” Hugo said.
“We are really appreciative of what you have done for us as a nation. What you have done will echo throughout the generations to come.” - Sapa