- Body is transported to lie in state at Union Buildings, the seat of government in South Africa’s capital Pretoria
- It is the place where Mandela ruled the country after unseating the apartheid regime which was based there
- South Africans waited from the early hours to honour celebrated leader and lined the streets for procession
- Giant arena in his home town of Qunu is being built to stage the biggest funeral in South Africa’s history
Thousands of mourners lined the streets of South Africa this morning as Nelson Mandela’s body was moved to lie in state in the capital – inside the building which once housed the apartheid government he fought for five decades.
South Africans formed a guard of honour for their former president this morning as his body was transported through Pretoria in a casket draped in the national flag, in a hearse surrounded by outriders, to lie in state for the first of three days.
This morning Mandela’s grandson Mandla visited his open casket in the government’s Union Buildings, followed by his second wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and third wife Graca Machel, as well as South Africa’s current president Jacob Zuma.
Mr Mandela’s remains will be moved daily between the Military Hospital on the outskirts of Pretoria to the Union Buildings.
It was there that he assumed the first black presidency of South Africa in 1994, holding court in the same rooms once occupied by his white oppressors.
One onlooker told Sky News: ‘We loved that man and he fought for us. He fought for us to be here so Viva Mandela and let him rest in peace.’
‘This a significant moment for me and my children,’ said 48-year-old teacher Thapelo Dlamini, who had been on waiting on the street for two hours with his two children.
Mr Mandela will be buried on Sunday in Qunu, his ancestral home in the Eastern Cape province, where a giant arena is already being built nearby.
A stone’s throw from the home where the former ANC leader grew up, it will stage the biggest funeral in South Africa’s history. Prince Charles will be among the dignitaries travelling to the remote rural location for the service.
Cortege: The body of Nelson Mandela is driven through the streets of the capital Pretoria this morning
Meanwhile a public memorial service in London today will remember the life of the anti-apartheid leader.
The service will be held at St Martin-in-the-Fields in Trafalgar Square from 10.30am at the request of the South African High Commission, feet away from the church.
The two share strong links and were the scene of freedom vigils for Mr Mandela during his incarceration.
Speaking at the service will be Sir Sydney Kentridge QC and Lord Joffe of Lidington, who both represented Mr Mandela at his treason trials, and campaigner and African National Congress veteran Mama Thembi Nobhadula.
Thousands of people are expected to pay their respects to their former leader over the next few days.
Barack Obama yesterday led tributes to Mr Mandela as world leaders joined thousands of people at a memorial service in the rain-soaked FNB Stadium in Soweto, where the former South African president made his final frail appearance during the 2010 World Cup.
The US president spoke of the ‘heroic’ life of the South African leader, describing him as the ‘last great liberator of the 20th century’ and compared his actions to those of Mahatma Gandhi, Abraham Lincoln and US civil rights leader Martin Luther King.
But he also warned against viewing Mr Mandela as detached from normal life.
‘He was not a bust made of marble, he was a man made of flesh and blood,’ Mr Obama told the crowds.
‘It was precisely because he could admit to imperfection, because he was so full of good humour, even mischief despite the heavy burdens that he carried, that we loved him so,’ he added.
Mr Obama’s speech came after he shook hands in the stadium with Cuban president Raul Castro, the first such greeting in public involving a president of the US since the Cuban revolution.
The former US president Bill Clinton reportedly shook hands in private with Raul’s brother Fidel behind closed doors at a UN lunch in 2000.
During the service in the two-thirds-filled stadium, boos were heard for the current South African president Jacob Zuma and the former US president George W Bush. But there were cheers for Mr Obama and for Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe.
Those attending included Prime Minister David Cameron and his three surviving predecessors, Sir John Major, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.
Also seen arriving at the service were supermodel Naomi Campbell, rock star Bono, former South African president FW De Klerk, Mr Clinton and his wife, ex-US secretary of state Hillary, former French president Nicolas Sarkozy and the current president Francois Hollande.
Mr Mandela, described at one time as the world’s most famous political prisoner, was released after 27 years in jail in 1990 and went on to become South Africa’s first black president. He died last Thursday aged 95.
The service, marked by heavy rain, heard from Andrew Mlangeni, a former prisoner on Robben Island with Mr Mandela, who spoke of the ‘outpouring of love’ following his death.
‘Madiba is looking down on us. There is no doubt he is smiling and he watches his beloved country, men and women, unite to celebrate his life and legacy,’ he said.
UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon told the service: ‘South Africa has lost a hero, we have lost a father and the world has lost a beloved friend and mentor.
‘Nelson Mandela was more than one of the greatest leaders of our time, he was one of our greatest teachers. He taught by example, he sacrificed so much and was willing to give up everything for freedom, equality and justice.’
Source : Daily mail