Madiba's body arrives at airport

By Drum Digital
14 December 2013

The airforce C-130 Hercules aircraft carrying former president Nelson Mandela's body touched down at the Mthatha Airport at 1.37pm on Saturday.

The plane took off from the Waterkloof Air Force Base in Pretoria at 11.58am.

As the plane and the two jets escorting it flew over the Mthatha city centre, crowds of people jumped up and down, screaming and cheering with excitement.

The convoy carrying Mandela's body was expected to drive through the streets of Mthatha before being taken to Qunu, about 31km away, where he spent much of his childhood. His state funeral would take place on Sunday.

Speaking in Qunu earlier, AmaHegebe chief Phathekile Holomisa said that before the plane left and throughout the journey, an elder or senior male family member would talk to the body and keep it informed of the progress of the journey.

The person would address Mandela as if he was still alive, Holomisa explained.

"This is so because his spirit lives."

Mandela, South Africa's first democratically-elected president, died at his home in Houghton, Johannesburg, last Thursday, aged 95.

- SAPA

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