“I wanted to see Mandela alive”

By Drum Digital
12 December 2013

For many young, old, frail and strong seeing Nelson Mandela alive would have been a dream come true.

But now they are left to see the beloved leader for the last time.

Pensioner Francinah Gomba (65) was up at 4am to be at the Union Building to view Tata's body.

Mourners were given an opportunity to view his body in a glass casket until Friday when it goes to Qunu for his funeral on Sunday, the 15th of December.

"I came here around after 5am and was told to go catch a bus at one of the Pretoria's park and ride and I went to Pretoria West. Our bus was the first to get here at came at 13 hours," she says.

Francinah had wished to see Madiba alive.

"I wanted to thank him for our children's education, for their food at school and for all we could not have because of apartheid but I never got a chance to meet him. I am grateful for his life.

He was the father of the nation, she enthuses.

After the Mandela family had a moment with Nelson Mandela who was dressed in a gold and black Madiba shirt.

Mourners dressed all black attire or ANC colours, presidents and ambassadors from different corners of the world were then given opportunity to pay homage to the world icon Mandela.

Anna Themba (32) from Soshanguve says she dreamt about this day in 2010.

"I didn't know it would be today but I saw red carpet and there came a message from up above saying people must unite and must pray".

Sirens fill the air in Tshwane, storekeepers scurry around, long winding queues -  everyone with the their heads stretched to catch a glimpse of dignitaries behind dark tinted windows who are also there to pay their last respects to Madiba.

Police and Metro cops dot Pretoria streets.

Buses from different park and ride stations load and ofload thousands of people.

Mandela died aged 95 at his home in Houghton, Johannesburg on the 5th of December after a long illness.

-        Thembisile Makgalemele

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