PRETORIA, Dec. 11 (Xinhua) -- The South African government on Wednesday transformed the body of Mandela to the Union Buildings (presidency building) in the administrative capital of Pretoria for the final respect by mourners.
The national flag was flying at half-mast at the main gate of the Union Buildings, and many mourners were awaiting to pay their last honor to the great man.
Mandela passed away at his residence in Johannesburg on Thursday evening at the age of 95.
An official told Xinhua that people could view Mandela's body at noon after his family and other dignitaries visited.
The top of the coffin was made of the glass, making mourners convenient to view the late national hero.
Helicopters were flying overhead to protect the Union Buildings.
The roads around the Union Buildings had been closed, with armed police guarding the entrances leading to the Presidency.
Outside the entrances many mourners were singing and dancing, expressing their deep sorrow and love to the anti-apartheid icon.
The memorial event in the Union Buildings would last for three days before the Mandela funeral is to be held at his home village of Qunu in the southern province of the Eastern Cape on Sunday.
Mandela became the first democratically elected president in May 1994, and was succeeded by Thabo Mbeki in June in 1999.
The statesman was admitted to hospital with the serious recurring lung infection several times in recent years. He suffered from tuberculosis when he was incarcerated for 27 years before the apartheid ended in 1994.
After being discharged from hospital in Pretoria on Sept. 1, he started his final fight against the disease at his home in Johannesburg.
By Thuso Khumalo JOHANNESBURG, Dec. 11 (Xinhua) -- As the world continues to mourn late former South African president Nelson Mandela, those who were close to the world icon have described him as a rare and unique leader.
Mandela died of a recurring lung infection on Dec. 5 at the age of 95.
Ismail Kathrada, a man charged with treason by the apartheid government and later imprisoned together with Mandela at the Robben Island, said that in Mandela he found all characteristics that made him unique from all others. Full story
JOHANNESBURG, Dec. 10 (Xinhua) -- World leaders and tens of thousands of South Africans on Tuesday gathered in rain at a stadium in South Africa's Johannesburg to honor former South African President Nelson Mandela.Full Story