Mandela's body lies in state for second day

December 12, 2013 - 8:35 AM
APTOPIX South Africa Mandela Mourning

People queue to catch a bus see the remains of Nelson Mandela at the Union Buildings in Pretoria, South Africa, Thursday, Dec. 12, 2013. The body of Nelson Mandela is being take in procession to the Union Buildings in Pretoria where it will lie in state for three days. Each morning his remains will be transported from the mortuary to the government buildings. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)

PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) — For a second day, droves of mourners filed past the body of Nelson Mandela on Thursday as it lay in state in South Africa's capital, Pretoria.

Mandela's casket was in the amphitheater at the Union Buildings, the seat of government where Mandela was inaugurated as the country's first black and democratically elected president in 1994.

Some mourners sobbed after passing the casket and had to be helped by security officials. Others accepted the grief of losing their revered leader.

"Now that I've seen his face, I think I'm OK now," Freda Mamemena said. "I see that the old man has rested at long last. He's at peace."

Mourner Siya Mionzi was troubled at seeing Mandela's body after being used to old media images of his smiling face and robust frame. Mandela died at his home in Johannesburg on Dec. 5 at the age of 95.

"He was lifeless and it wasn't the Madiba that we all knew," Mionzi said, referring to Mandela by his clan name.

Thousands of people lined up at staging areas to catch buses to the viewing site, but many were not able to see the casket. On Thursday afternoon, the government announced that park-and-ride centers had been closed for the day after reaching full capacity. It said between 12,000 and 14,000 paid their final respects on Wednesday, the first day of viewing.

The official memorial service was held at the FNB Stadium, in the Johannesburg township of Soweto, on Tuesday. It was attended by scores of current and former heads of state and government.

Friday is the final day of viewing. Mandela will be buried Sunday in the village of Qunu in the Eastern Cape province, where he spent his childhood.