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Mandela On His Way Home

The body of former South African president Nelson Mandela has arrived in the southeastern town of Mthatha, a final leg in a journey back to his hometown village of Qunu.

A military band played music as his body arrived at Mthatha's airport on Saturday.

A Sunday funeral will be held for Mr. Mandela in Qunu.

Earlier, the African National Congress held a memorial service for the late president at Waterkloof air base before the remains were flown to the Eastern Cape.

Speaking at the ceremony Mr. Mandela's grandson, Mandla Mandela said his grandfather continued to work to improve people's lives even after his retirement from politics.

"This world icon worked tirelessly even after the achievement of democracy in South Africa to continue improving lives. Even as he retired from politics his attention shifted to social issues such as HIV and AIDS, and the well being of the nation's children."

Officials say about 100,000 people viewed Mr. Mandela's body during the three days it was displayed in Pretoria's Union Buildings.

A reporter for VOA says police struggled to control crowds Friday as some mourners tried to push past police barricades before the viewing ended. Several people fell to the ground during a minor stampede before order was restored.

One of the mourners, Doctor Mulumba, said he did not want to miss his chance to see Mr. Mandela, who died at the age of 95.

"I arrived here at 4:00 a.m., the reason being, yesterday I was in a queue from 11 and I couldn't get in. So today early in the morning I was here at 4:00 a.m."

The viewing site for Mr. Mandela's body was the amphitheater of the Union Buildings, South Africa's seat of government. It is the same place where Mr. Mandela was sworn in as South Africa's first black president in 1994, after being imprisoned for 27 years for his role in the struggle against white minority rule.

The former South African leader died December 5 following a lengthy illness.

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