South Africans form guard of honour as Madiba procession drives to Union Buildings

By admin
11 December 2013

Members of the public shouted and sang as the procession bearing the body of former president Nelson Mandela made its way from One Military Hospital to the Union Buildings in Pretoria on Wednesday morning.

Andre Coetzee, who was on his way to work, said he intended to turn out for the next three days to say his farewells to Madiba. “This is an opportunity to share in the compassion and show how we feel.” He said even the gridlocked traffic had an air of respectful patience because of the reverence of the occasion.

'Out of respect, it’s a personal, cultural [choice], I choose not to see the body. I don't want to remember him like that'

Coetzee said he did not intend to view Mandela's body as he lay in state at the union buildings for the next three days.

“Out of respect, it’s a personal, cultural [choice], I choose not to see the body. I don't want to remember him like that.”

A group of women, who ululated as the procession went by, said they wanted to pay their last respects to Madiba's earthly remains. “We want to see him to say goodbye,” they said.

Madiba’s body arrived at the Union Buildings in Pretoria shortly before 8am. The procession left the hospital at 7.15am. Hundreds of people broke into song and dance as his coffin, draped in the South African flag, passed by, accompanied by more than 20 cars and many motorbikes.

Some streets were left empty. A small group of people formed a guard of honour on Madiba Street as helicopters hovered overhead.

As the coffin went through the intersection at Francis Baard Street, a woman in uniform stopped and saluted the cavalcade.

Johannes Segooa, who watched from behind the barricades, said he wanted to pay his last respects to Mandela.

“His legacy will last forever as Tata has sacrificed a lot for us,” Segooa said. “He has run his race until the finish line.”

Madiba died on Thursday night at his home in Houghton, Johannesburg, at the age of 95.

He will lie in state at the Union Buildings for the next three days, and will be buried in Qunu in the Eastern Cape on Sunday.

– Sapa


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