Emotional final day to view Madiba
Thousands bid farewell but some are turned away from last chance to see former president
EIGHTY- one- year old Sarah Ibrahim cried when Madiba’s body was driven up to the Union Buildings.
“He has always been in my heart. I always wanted to see him. There’s no one like this man. How can I not want to see him?”
Ibrahim, from Johannesburg, queued at the LC de Villiers Sports Centre on Wednesday but could not see the body as the line was cut off just after 2pm, before he could make it.
Stevie Naicker travelled from Durban to view the body. She said it was important for her to be there because her uncle, George Naicker, had been imprisoned with Mandela on Robben Island for 14 years.
“I met him once before he was elected president. It was such a beautiful experience. I shook his hand and asked to kiss him. I didn’t even wash my face that night.”
Naicker was turned back on Thursday from the park-andride facility at Hatfield.
“I was disappointed, but I prayed hard. The man spent 27 years in prison – one day out of my life isn’t anything.”
In a final tribute truly befitting a man of his stature, tens of thousands of people lined the streets of the Pretoria CBD yesterday as the late president made his final trip to the Union Buildings.
“Nelson Mandela! Nelson Mandela our president,” sang the people as they marched up and down Madiba Street in high spirits, awaiting their final chance to catch a glimpse of Madiba’s coffin in a hearse, as a guard of honour lined the street.
ANC spokesman Jackson Mthembu urged those who had been unable to view Madiba’s body to understand that this was inevitable.
He said Madiba was so loved and he had attracted such large crowds that it was not possible for everyone wishing to see the body to be accommodated.
For the third day Mandela’s grandson Mandla stood at the side of the casket at the Union Buildings, while navy officials dressed in their pristine white uniforms took turns to guard the casket.
An extremely sombre mood hung around the Union Buildings yesterday evening as preparations to move Mandela’s body back to 1 Military Hospital were being finalised, with people present knowing that this was the very last time they would see him.
Mandla Mandela, fought hard to hold back tears as his grandfather’s casket was loaded to leave the Union Buildings for the very last time.
Some members of
the SANDF also struggled to hold back tears.
As the cortege made its way back to 1 Military Hospital, people again lined the streets on hearing the sound of the motorcade, and sang a final farwell to Madiba.
FINAL PUSH: Mourners fall during a stampede as they run to queue before boarding buses to take them to the Union Buildings, Pretoria, where Nelson Mandela lay in state yesterday.
DESPERATE BID: A police officer is at the ready as mourners force their way through a checkpoint on the way to the Union Buildings.