Mandela park-and-ride close for Thursday

Police stand guard as people wait outside the Union Buildings in Pretoria to bid farewell to former South African president Nelson Mandela, on the first of a three-day lying in state on December 11, 2013. Picture: AFP

Park-and-ride facilities for the public to view the body of Nelson Mandela at the Union Buildings in Pretoria closed on Thursday shortly before 3pm, the government said.

Thereafter, dozens of buses travelling towards the Union Buildings stopped and people began jumping off to catch taxis back to the original park-and-ride points.

“Park-and-ride centres… have been closed for the day… after reaching their full capacity,” government spokeswoman Phumla Williams said.

“It is a reality that there are limits on the number of hours for which the remains of the president can be viewed and, therefore, the number of people who can visit the Union Buildings between 8am and 5.30pm daily.”

Williams said between 12,000 and 14,000 people came to the Union Buildings on Wednesday. Figures for Thursday were still being determined.

Thousands of people queued for hours, in blistering heat at park-and-ride facilities, to get to the Union Buildings.

At the seat of government, the mood was sombre as people filed past Mandela’s coffin, some saluting, others bowing their heads and some gently waving, as they caught their last glimpse of the former president.

He will lie in state for the third and last time on Friday.

Williams urged the public to arrive as early as possible to make use of park-and-ride facilities on Friday.

The statesman died at his home in Houghton, Johannesburg, last Thursday at the age of 95.

His body will be transported to the Eastern Cape on Saturday. He will be laid to rest in a state funeral on Sunday in Qunu, where he spent much of his childhood.


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