Machel repeatedly dabbed her eyes with a tissue and looked down after receiving the carefully folded black, gold, and green flag during a special ANC tribute ceremony at the Waterkloof Air Force Base in Pretoria.
Struggle heroes Ahmed Kathrada and Andrew Mlangeni were among the pallbearers who carried former president Nelson Mandela’s coffin out, ready to be loaded onto an awaiting aircraft.
The frail-looking long-time friends of Mandela took their places alongside the coffin and helped to wheel it out of the hangar. It would be flown to the Eastern Cape, ahead of the state funeral in Qunu on Sunday, the rural area where Mandela spent much of his childhood.
Earlier, two of Mandela’s grandsons thanked members of the African National Congress for the ceremony.
Ndaba Mandela called the ANC “the greatest African political organisation” without which “we would not have known Nelson Mandela”.
Mandela, who was South Africa’s first democratically-elected president, died at his home in Houghton, Johannesburg, last Thursday, at the age of 95.