A country bent on saying last goodbyes

Mourners react after paying their last respects to former president Nelson Mandela at the Union Buildings in Pretoria on 13 December 2013, the last day that he is lying in state. His funeral will be held at Qunu on Sunday. Picture: Christine Vermooten/The Citizen/Pool

Tens of thousands of South Africans had the chance to bid Madiba farewell in person, but tens of thousands did not.

The long queues yesterday at the Union Buildings where former President Nelson Mandela was lying in state for the third and last day told the story of a nation bent on saying farewell to a revered icon and leader.

By 10am yesterday more than 13 000 people were queuing at the pick-up points and 60 000 people entered the Union Buildings grounds.

At some park-and-ride facilities the gates closed at midday and no more people were allowed to join the queue. Some who did manage to catch a bus were not allowed into the Union Buildings after 3pm.

Mourners react after paying their last respects to former president Nelson Mandela at the Union Buildings in Pretoria on 13 December 2013, the last day that he is lying in state. His funeral will be held at Qunu on Sunday. Picture: Christine Vermooten/The Citizen/Pool

Mourners react after paying their last respects to former president Nelson Mandela at the Union Buildings in Pretoria on 13 December 2013, the last day that he is lying in state. His funeral will be held at Qunu on Sunday. Picture: Christine Vermooten/The Citizen/Pool

Former President Mandela’s legacy must be used as a foundation to build an even stronger democratic South Africa, former police officer Andre Beukes told Saturday Citizen yesterday. He said the country was not yet at peace.

“All of us must really come together on Monday, the national day of reconciliation, and start following in Madiba’s footsteps, because if it wasn’t for him, things might have reached a catastrophic point during apartheid.

“I met Madiba for the first time in 1990, and having to come here today to watch him lying in his casket, is almost unreal,” said Beukes.

Another mourner, Sandra Mokhonwane, said it would take a long time for her to come to terms with Mandela’s passing.

“He will surely be missed by all of us and may his soul rest in peace,” Mokhonwane added.

Mourners react after paying their last respects to former president Nelson Mandela at the Union Buildings in Pretoria on 13 December 2013, the last day that he is lying in state. His funeral will be held at Qunu on Sunday. Picture: Christine Vermooten/The Citizen/Pool

Mourners react after paying their last respects to former president Nelson Mandela at the Union Buildings in Pretoria on 13 December 2013, the last day that he is lying in state. His funeral will be held at Qunu on Sunday. Picture: Christine Vermooten/The Citizen/Pool

Beem Roopen and his wife flew in from Durban. They were queuing in vain since 5am.

“I am very disappointed. I took three days leave and were not able to see him in any of the three days” he said. He added he felt the event was organised poorly.

Diana Banyard, 70, said she does not regret standing in a queue for more than seven hours and not seeing Madiba.

“I learned a lot. I have made friends with loads of different people,” she said.



today in print

today in print