Mandela's body-viewing ceremony ends amid disappointment   2013-12-14 03:17:44            

By Stanley Karombo

PRETORIA, Dec. 13 (Xinhua) -- The three-day body viewing of late former South African President Nelson Mandela ended in Pretoria on Friday with over 100,000 people estimated to have paid homage to the anti-apartheid icon.

However, thousands failed to see Mandela's body due to the extremely high volumes of people queuing to bid him farewell at the Union Buildings.

"The third day closed with over 50,000 paying their respects to our national icon," said acting government spokesperson Phumla Williams.

Mandela's grandson Mandla who for these past three days sat close to the body of his grandfather spoke solemnly as the body was carried from the amphitheatre to One Military Hospital in Pretoria.

The past three days have been the most painful for Mandela's family and millions of South Africans.

Daily, Mandela's body was being transported from One Military Hospital outside Pretoria to the Union Buildings for the public to pay their homage.

As in other two days, when Mandela's body arrived at the Union Buildings on Friday, soldiers from the army and air force were there to receive it.

Then, it was time to sing the national anthem before the body was taken off the hearse to the viewing platform.

Many people failed to get a glimpse of Mandela's body lying in a casket as queues stretched for several kilometres. As the ceremony came to a close, thousands of people were turned away.

Among them was Emelia Wakaba, who could not hide her disappointment.

"I'm deeply sad that I was not able to see Tata. The man did a lot for us and I thought that was the only time to say good bye to the gallant fighter," Wakaba said.

Mathew Thando, 36, who was in a wheel chair, said he was also heartbroken.

"I was in the line for the entire day, only to be told that I can't see the body of our father. That was not fair. The responsible authority should have extended the time".

However, Minister in the Presidency Collins Chabane, said the government was willing to accommodate everybody, but unfortunately, the body viewing process had to come to an end.

And those who got the chance to say good-bye to Mandela had heart touching stories to tell.

Stone Sepenyane, a middle-aged man, said the image of Madiba's face will forever remain in his mind.

Palesa Mofokeng, a woman in her forties, said she still battled to understand that Madiba was finally gone for real.

Other people interviewd by Xinhua said the world icon has left a great legacy that will guide South Africans for centuries to come.

Minister Chabane said all was now set for the body to be flown to Eastern Cape tomorrow, for the burial in Qunu on Sunday. The body will be accompanied by members of Mandela's family and the military.

Mandela, who died of illness at his Johannesburg home on Dec. 5 at the age of 95, is to be buried according to the abaThembu clan tradition.

It's expected that a number of traditional rites will be performed, including slaughtering a cow and spilling traditional beer as a way of appeasing Mandela's ancestral spirits.

Editor: yan
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