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About 100,000 pay homage to Mandela at Union Buildings

English.news.cn   2013-12-14 00:27:48            

PRETORIA, Dec. 13 (Xinhua) -- About 100,000 paid homage to former President Nelson Mandela at the Union Buildings in Pretoria during three days as Mandela's body lied in state, the government said on Friday.

The third and final day closed with over 50,000 paying their respects to the national icon and first democratically elected president in South Africa, the government said in a press briefing about the proceedings.

"Government reiterates its appreciation to all the people of our country for taking time off from their daily schedules to travel to the Union Buildings to bid President Mandela farewell," said Phumla Williams, acting government spokesperson.

The expression of love and support has brought immense comfort to the family and loved ones of Tata Madiba (Mandela), Williams said.

Thousands of mourners were turned away as the final day of viewing Mandela's body came to a close. Some left angrily, complaining about poor organization of the proceedings.

"Police seemed unable to control the situation when there was too much pushing and rushing," complained Mashidi Outado, who came from Johannesburg. But the middle-aged man said he was lucky to get a glimpse of Mandela in the casket.

The remains of Mandela will be transported to the Eastern Cape on Saturday before being laid to rest in Qunu, where Mandela spent much of his childhood, on Sunday.

The state funeral is expected to be attended by several heads of state and government, former heads of state, eminent persons, heads of delegation, heads of international organisations and the diplomatic corps, the Department of International Relations and Cooperation said.

Britain's Prince Charles, Malawian President Joyce Banda, Lesotho's King Letsie III, Iran's Vice President Mohammad Shariatmadari and current and former government leaders from Ethiopia, Tanzania, Nigeria, and Zambia were among the guests expected at the funeral.

As the logistics at Qunu are limited, the government has advised foreign heads of state and government not to go there.

"It would have been irresponsible to have 101 heads of state at Qunu. They would never get the space," said Minister in the Presidency Collins Chabane.

South Africa is fully prepared for former President Nelson Mandela's funeral, said Lt-Gen Xolani Mabangu, spokesman of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) said on Friday.

"Everything is on track in terms of arrangements for the funeral,"said Mabangu.

About 5,000 people will be present at the funeral, according to Mabangu.

Editor: yan
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