12 December 2013

South Africa: Mandela Public Viewing Begins

Pretoria — Members of the public began filing past the body of former president Nelson Mandela as it lay in state at the Union Buildings in Pretoria on Thursday morning.

Several people in wheelchairs were escorted and a young child was carried on the back of an adult man.

A woman draped in an ANC flag waved the national flag as she passed the coffin. One man ignored the quick flow of viewers to stand silently for a few moments with his hand on his heart, staring intently at the body of South Africa's first democratic president.

The procession of people was marked by the stark silence in which they filed past.

Earlier, SA National Defence Force members saluted the coffin as they were the first allowed in to view his body lying in state for the second day.

Mandela's coffin was displayed in a roofed structure open on two sides. It was watched over by four military guards standing with their heads bowed.

Large displays of white flowers were placed on the sides of the structure.

People were walking up the road to the Union Buildings in sombre and lengthy, but orderly lines.

Earlier, Madiba's grandson Mandla Mandela accompanied the coffin as it was carried from the hearse to the amphitheatre.

People can view the body until 5.30pm.

Friday will be the last day Mandela's body lies in state.

Mandela died at his home in Houghton, Johannesburg, last Thursday, at the age of 95.

The official memorial service was held at the FNB Stadium in Soweto on Tuesday, and was attended by about 100 current and former heads of state and government.

He will be buried in Qunu in the Eastern Cape on Sunday.

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