Mandela 'our father' - mourners

2013-12-12 09:32
People celebrate as the funeral cortege of South African former president Nelson Mandela leaves the Military Hospital to the Union Buildings for the lying in state. (Stephane de Sakutin, AFP)

People celebrate as the funeral cortege of South African former president Nelson Mandela leaves the Military Hospital to the Union Buildings for the lying in state. (Stephane de Sakutin, AFP)

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Pretoria - People gathered outside One Military Hospital in Pretoria on Thursday morning paid tribute to former president Nelson Mandela for fostering democracy.

Most described Madiba as the father of the nation who sacrificed personal gain for the good of the nation.

"If it were not for Madiba, maybe I would still be discriminated [against] at work.

"Life has changed dramatically from what it used to be under the racial apartheid rule," said Jessica Tome.

"South Africa has significant freedoms compared to other African states. We appreciate the role played by Madiba and his colleagues in bringing equality and freedom," she said.

Tome joined a small group of people lining Voortrekker Road to watch the procession bearing Mandela's body to the Union Buildings where he will lie in state for the second day.

Ina Scheepers said Mandela's death had left a significant void in leadership.

"He was a father to all South Africans, unlike some divisive leaders we have now. There will only be one Mandela in our history," said Scheepers, from Centurion.

The motorcade carrying Mandela's body left One Military Hospital at 07:12 and arrived at the Union Buildings about a half hour later.

More than 20 vehicles and police motorbikes accompanied the hearse, while Oryx military helicopters hovered overhead.

Members of the public outside the hospital sang struggle songs and waved as they spotted Mandela's coffin covered in the South African flag. Many people took photographs of the convoy with their cellphones.

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

The official memorial service was held at the FNB Stadium in Soweto on Tuesday, and was attended by about 100 current and former heads of state and government.

He will be buried in Qunu in the Eastern Cape on Sunday.

Friends, colleagues, comrades and family of Nelson Mandela are invited to share their memories and tributes, and to light a candle for him, on his profile at

- Share your memories of Nelson Mandela with us.

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