Patient wait for brief glimpse of an icon

Hundreds of people queue outside Union Buildings in Pretoria, South Africa, to be picked up and brought to a gathering point where they will be taken to bid farewell to former South African President Nelson Mandela's body laying in state on December 11, 2013. Mandela, the revered icon of the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa and one of the towering political figures of the 20th century, died in Johannesburg on December 5 at age 95. Mandela, who was elected South Africa's first black president after spending nearly three decades in prison, had been receiving treatment for a lung infection at his Johannesburg home since September, after three months in hospital in a critical state. AFP PHOTO / GIANLUIGI GUERCIA

An estimated 6 000 people had waited in line at Pretoria’s park-and-ride facilities from 6am yesterday, waiting to view former President Nelson Mandela lying in state.

A handful of mourners had been at the LC de Villiers sports grounds shuttle service since before dawn yesterday, but only climbed on the bus to the Union Buildings at 1.15pm.

Johann Walters stood in the queue, but said he didn’t mind the wait.

“If he could go to jail for 27 years, it will be my privilege to stand in a queue – even if it is for 27 hours,” he said.

The procession at the Union Buildings ran more than an hour late, but by the time the first bus left, thousands of people had lined up at the University of Pretoria’s sports grounds.

IN PICTURESPaying respect to Mandela at the Union Buildings

One of the first buses that left LC de Villiers took 45 minutes to reach the Union Buildings. Traffic was not an issue as police escorted the bus on its route, stopping and redirecting traffic. The problem was the driver and all personnel on board did not know which entrance the public should be dropped off at.

It took 15 minutes to walk in single file up the stairs of the Union Buildings and under the ca-nopy where Nelson Mandela lay. Four servicemen in pristine white uniforms stood guard as the public walked past in lines on either side of his casket.

Although only a few seconds were allowed to see the man who freed a nation, most mourners said that it was sufficient.

Taking the bus back to the pick-up point was quick – but again the driver was unsure of where to drop the people.

The problem was solved by late afternoon.

Although the bus trip took The Citizen almost two hours, it was time well spent.


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