Mourners refuse to leave park-and-ride facilities despite shutdown

2013-12-13 14:42

Police were sent to park-and-ride facilities in Pretoria this afternoon after members of the public refused to leave despite transport to the Union Buildings being shut down.

Thousands of people, who were waiting at the Pretoria Showgrounds to be taken to view Nelson Mandela’s body lying in state at the seat of government, pointed umbrellas and fingers at metro police when they were told the number of people able to be processed at the venue had reached capacity.

“We tried telling them this park and ride is closed, but they won’t listen,” said a metro policeman at the showgrounds.

Six police cars arrived at the venue shortly thereafter.

Meanwhile, at the Union Buildings, streams of people were still making their way on foot to the site for viewing the struggle icon’s body.

This despite a request by government communication services for the public not to go to the Union Buildings, but to find different ways to say goodbye to Mandela.

Mounted police tried to gently push the people back.

The lines of people filing past Mandela’s coffin continued smoothly.

Government communications chief policy and research director Tasneem Carrim said estimates suggested that just before 11am, two people were viewing the body every three seconds. But it appeared the lines were moving even faster on Friday.

By 7.30am, 25 000 people had gathered at the Pretoria Showgrounds park and ride, 10 000 at the Fountains Valley Circle, 8 000 at the Union Buildings and 7 000 at the LC de Villiers Sports Centre.

“Everyone hopes for a personal chance to say goodbye, but it’s not always possible,” said Carrim.

Today is the third and final day in which Mandela’s body will lie in state. Thereafter, it will be transported to Qunu where a state funeral will take place on Sunday in the rural area in which Mandela spent much of his childhood.

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

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