Mourners overwhelm on last day to catch glimpse of Mandela

His grandchild Mandla sat beside the coffin Friday,acknowledging mourners with smiles.

Written by Reuters | Pretoria | Published: December 14, 2013 1:14 am

Mourners flocked in their tens of thousands to South Africa’s central government buildings Friday to say a personal goodbye to anti-apartheid hero Nelson Mandela on the final day of his lying in state in Pretoria.

Such was the crush of people wanting to see Mandela’s body in the Union Buildings,that the government asked others to stay away from the park-and-ride facilities set up to take mourners to the area.

“We cannot guarantee that every person who is presently in the queues at the various centres will be given access to the Union Buildings,” the government said in a statement. The park-and-ride points had 50,000 people waiting by 0530 GMT.

Winding queues snaked for kilometres from the government site perched on a hill overlooking the city,well into heart of the capital.

The body of South Africa’s first black president was lying in state for a third and final day before being flown on Saturday to the Eastern Cape for a funeral Sunday at his ancestral home in Qunu,700 km south of Johannesburg. Mandela died last week aged 95.

Filing past the coffin,mourners viewed the body laid out in a green and gold batik shirt,a style that he wore and had made famous. His face was visible.

His grandchild Mandla sat beside the coffin Friday,acknowledging mourners with smiles.

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