Tata's body returns home to his final resting place

By Charlene
14 December 2013

The people of Mthatha united today as the Hercules C-130 and two Gripen fighter jets flew across the Mthatha sky. And two hours later, at 3pm, the procession of former president Nelson Mandela made its way past a roaring crowd, headed for Qunu, a good 30 kilometers away.

Every shop in Mthatha closed its doors and the people of Mthatha silently shook their fists and waved as Nelson Rolihlala Mandela drove through the streets of Eastern Cape for the last time.

Not a single struggle song could be heard as mourners headed the call for those on the side of the road to observe a moment of silence. A church bell clanged in the distance. By 4pm, the procession had arrived in Madiba's Qunu home.

Mthatha residents such as Xueyen Lin (29) has been living in Mthatha for the past three years. She and her family formed part of the people who lined the streets of city. "He's a good man and wanted the future of South Africa to be a better place," she said.

Nokwanda Zibi shed a tear as the procession passed. Accompanied by her six-year-old son, Masande, she said she had travelled from Dutywa, an hour from Mthatha, to observe the procession. "This is a sad day indeed but I am grateful that I am part of this magnificent occasion."

Madiba will be laid to rest in Qunu on 15 December at a private funeral at his home. About 5 000 family members and dignitaries including Britain's Prince Charles and US human rights activist Reverend Jesse Jackson are expected to attend.

- Asa Sokopo

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