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Thousands line streets to see hearse

Traffic in Pretoria was gridlocked from early morning and shops along the procession route were closed.

Written by Reuters | Pretoria | Published: December 12, 2013 2:29 am

Thousands of people queued on Wednesday to say goodbye to Nelson Mandela,whose body was lying in state in Pretoria in the building where the anti-apartheid hero was inaugurated in 1994 as South Africa’s first black president.

Foreign dignitaries and celebrities joined thousands of South Africans at the imposing Union Buildings,perched on a hill overlooking Pretoria,for a last chance to see the body of the man regarded as the father of democratic South Africa. Some carried infants on their backs.

Mandela’s flag-draped casket was met by officers representing branches of the military on arrival from the capital’s main military hospital,in a formal ceremony that contrasted with Tuesday’s memorial.

Thousands of mourners lined the streets as the black hearse,led by a procession of police motorcycles,wound its way to the official seat of government. “This is a significant moment for me and my children,” said Thapelo Dlamini who had been waiting on the street for two hours with his two children. Traffic in Pretoria was gridlocked from early morning and shops along the procession route were closed.

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