Strong shoulders to lean on

2013-12-14 00:00

THE medical team serving at the Union Buildings this week handed out water, tissues and comfort.

They were the shoulders on which mourners leaned — and the strong arms that carried those who could not climb the steps to where Nelson Mandela lay in state.

There were also social workers, psychologists and chaplains on hand to support those for whom the experience was simply overwhelming.

The SA Military Health Service said it was a sad week for everyone.

Colonel Schalk Welgemoed was in command of the team, which included 45 soldiers, 23 police officers and 14 people from the Department of Social Development. And despite the emotion, the heat and the hours-long queues, only three people had to be taken to hospital, one of them a pregnant woman.

The sheer number of people who filed past the coffin took everyone by surprise, Welgemoed said.

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