Up to 14,000 viewed Mandela body Wednesday: government
Up to 14,000 people viewed Nelson Mandela's body on the first day of his lying in state, the government said Thursday, announcing that shuttle services for the second day had reached capacity.
“Yesterday, December 11, between 12,000 and 14,000 people were able to pay their final respects. Today’s numbers are still being determined,” the government said in a statement.
Thousands more queued to see the body on Thursday, and authorities urged mourners who had not started queuing by late afternoon to return early on Friday.
“Government appreciates the overwhelming response from the public to pay homage to Tata Madiba,” it said, referring to Mandela as “father” in Zulu and using his clan name.
“However, it is a reality that there are limits on the number of hours for which the remains of the president can be viewed.”
Family members and dignitaries viewed the open casket Wednesday morning, after it was transported along a guard of honour from the 1 Military hospital to the Union Buildings in Pretoria.
The public was allowed in at around midday, and mourners formed snaking queues that called to memory long lines in the first all-race elections in 1994 that brought Mandela to power.
Friday will be the last of his three-day lying in state before the liberation hero’s body is flown to his rural childhood village in the south, Qunu, where Mandela will be buried Sunday.