Thousands miss out as viewings of Mandela′s body comes to end | News | DW | 13.12.2013
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Thousands miss out as viewings of Mandela's body comes to end

Mourners were turned away as thousands of others paid respect to Nelson Mandela on the final day of his lying in state. Almost 100,000 people have viewed the body of the human rights icon ahead of his burial on Sunday.

Police barriers were breached at one of the park-and-ride points set up to ferry people to Mandela's body, which has spent the last three days in view at the Union Buildings in the South African capital of Pretoria.

The government appealed for mourners to stay away amid safety and security concerns. Thousands of others were left disappointed when officials traveled down the considerable queues on Friday, informing mourners - barely two hours after the public viewings had begun - that capacity had been reached.

"The third day closed with over 50,000 paying their respects to our national icon," the South African government said via statement. “The whole of South Africa wants to say goodbye.”

George Bizos, Mandela's lawyer during the Rivonia Trial in which he was imprisoned for 27 years, said the winding queues brought back memories of the 1994 elections that inevitably brought Mandela to power.

"I am impressed. If you saw the pictures on the size of the queues of the people gathered around Union Buildings - any picture we had of the 1994 election, the endless lines of voters waiting patiently to vote, there are many more now," he told news agency dpa.

Mandela's body was moved via police motorcade back to a military hospital for the final night. His remains will be flown to the Eastern Cape province on Saturday ahead of a state funeral at his ancestral home of Qunu on Sunday.

Mandela died on December 5, aged 95, after a prolonged respiratory infection, with a 10-day national mourning period announced by South African President Jacob Zuma the following day. South Africa's first black president, Mandela was honored in a main memorial on Tuesday held at Johannesburg's FNB Stadium - also known as Soccer City - and attended by top politicians from more than 90 countries.

Mandela's funeral will be a mix of tradition and pageantry, and will be split into two parts. The first will be attended by 4,500 people, followed by a smaller ceremony in front of 500 mourners.

ph/msh (dpa, Reuters, AFP)