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Huge Crowds at Final Day of Mandela Viewing

South African police try to block mourners at a checkpoint while they attempt to walk to the Union building to see the body of former South African President Nelson Mandela, in Pretoria, Dec. 13, 2013.
South African police try to block mourners at a checkpoint while they attempt to walk to the Union building to see the body of former South African President Nelson Mandela, in Pretoria, Dec. 13, 2013.
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— The public has said a final goodbye to former South African President Nelson Mandela. Friday was the last day of a visitation where his body could be viewed.  

Paulina Kwanyane, an attorney from Johannesburg, arrived early Thursday morning to see the body of Nelson Mandela, which was lying in state at the Union Buildings in Pretoria.

She said, "I joined the queue about seven in the morning yesterday, but I couldn't make it."

After waiting eight hours, the line was cut off at 3 p.m. So she decided to get a cheap hotel room, waking up at 3 a.m. Friday to line up again. Just after noon, she made it inside to see Mandela -- a quick walk by his open coffin, which is topped by glass.

The waiting for that brief moment was worth it to the 41-year-old, and harkened back to waiting in line for the country's first free election.

"You know the queue that I was standing in yesterday, it reminded me of 1994. Because we wanted to just have to vote for freedom," said Kwanyane.

After two days of waiting, she found solace. She said, "This is day two, but I'm happy. I made it, regardless. It was quite tough, but it was worth it. I couldn't go back without seeing him.… He gave up his life for us, and here we are today. So he deserved that little -- it's a few hours for us and he gave up years of his life for us."

  • Police form a barricade after the the cut off time for viewing the body of Nelson Mandela outside the Union Buildings in Pretoria, Dec. 13, 2013.
  • Crowds of people walk after learning they would not be able to view Nelson Mandela's body at the Union Buildings in Pretoria, Dec. 13, 2013. (Peter Cox for VOA)
  • South African police control the crowd following a crush as people jostled to see former South African president Nelson Mandela on the last day of his lying in state in Pretoria, Dec. 13, 2013.
  • People line up to catch a bus to see the remains of Nelson Mandela at the Union Buildings in Pretoria, Dec. 12, 2013.
  • People line up for courtesy buses to ferry them to the Union Buildings to view the body of Nelson Mandela in Pretoria, Dec. 12, 2013.
  • A woman weeps after paying her respects to Nelson Mandela as Mandela lies in state for the second day at the Union Buildings in Pretoria, Dec. 12, 2013.
  • South African mourners hold posters of former president Nelson Mandela, while chanting slogans as the convoy transporting his remains passes by in Pretoria, Dec. 11, 2013.
  • Military personnel carry the remains of the late Nelson Mandela upon arrival at the Union Buildings in Pretoria, Dec. 11, 2013.
  • Nelson Mandela's widow Graca Machel, right, pays her respects to the former South African president at the Union Buildings in Pretoria, Dec. 11, 2013.
  • Mourners line up after waiting for hours to get into a bus to go to the Union Buildings where the casket of Nelson Mandela lies in state for three days in Pretoria, Dec. 11, 2013.
  • People react as the procession for former South African president Nelson Mandela leaves the military hospital in Pretoria, Dec. 11, 2013.
  • Defense force personnel and hospital staff salute a procession for former South African president Nelson Mandela as it leaves the military hospital in Pretoria, Dec. 11, 2013.
  • Women wave South African national flags before the cortege carrying the coffin of former South African President Nelson Mandela passes by in Pretoria, Dec. 11, 2013.

Friday was the last of three days during which the public was able to view Mandela's body lying in state at the Union Buildings in Pretoria, the same place where he was sworn in as South Africa's first black president in 1994.

Mandela's body has been shuttled in between a Military Hospital and the Union Buildings each morning and night.

The body will now be taken to Waterkloof base in Centurion, where the African National Congress will have a farewell to Mandela, the party's former leader.

Mandela's remains will be flown to the Eastern Cape, where a military ceremony will take place as the remains are then placed in a hearse, which will transport Mandela's body to Qunu, his ancestral home.

The state funeral service will take place Sunday in Qunu.

Not everyone made it in to pay their last respects. Like Thursday, police had to cut off lines in the afternoon.  Friday, crowds began pushing back against police, and some protested, walking through the streets below the grounds of the Union Buildings.

Those who made it in had waited overnight.

Ntsiki Mkhwazi waited with her two nieces in line since after midnight. She said, despite the long wait, it was necessary.

"This for me personally, it's a closure and I had to do it," she said. "Moving forward and you look back on what he's done for us as a country….We will never have another president like this person. No one will beat this."

For Kwanyane, whose politically active mother had been forced to flee to Lesotho when Kwanyane was a child, it was a goodbye to a man who had tremendous impact on her life.

"I'm glad I came," she said. "This was much for me to have closure and I have it, I truly have it, I truly have it."

As the shadows grew in the terraced gardens below the Union Buildings, the last few public mourners made their way past Mandela's casket. At the site of his historic inauguration almost 20 years ago, they bid him a final goodbye.
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by: kiir from: Canada
December 13, 2013 11:52 AM
I cried when I heard about the death of Dr. John Garang ..now cried and i cried cried for third time as adult. when i heard about the death of my respectful father Nelson Mandela. My wishes as a child war from R.O.S.S it was to go to South Africa and shack his hand alive. But they say God gives and takes R.I.P Father though i will deeply missed you.

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