Mandela to lie in state until service

ANDREA VANCE IN PRETORIA
Last updated 05:00 12/12/2013
Reuters

Mandela's body arrives at the Union Buildings in the South African capital for three days of lying in state.

Nelson Mandela memorial
Reuters Zoom
Thousands of South Africans wait in line to pay respects to Nelson Mandela's body in Pretoria.

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After the colour and chaos of Tuesday's national memorial service, the body of Nelson Mandela will lie in state for three days.

World leaders still in South Africa after the service are paying quiet homage to the anti-apartheid icon.

Prime Minister John Key is among them.

He was to visit the Union Buildings in Pretoria overnight. It is the official seat of government, and was the venue for Mandela's 1994 presidential inauguration.

Locals are expected to form a guard of honour daily as the funeral procession is paraded through the streets from the military hospital mortuary.

The Government has appealed to locals to line the route as the casket, draped in the national flag, passes by at 7am each day. Shops and vendors were expected to close temporarily to accommodate the large numbers of people.

His body will lie in state, in a huge marquee, until the weekend.

The first few hours of viewing was given over to VIPs - although many leaders were encouraged to leave after the memorial service for security and logistical reasons.

Bill and Hillary Clinton, who were close to the Mandela family, were expected to make the journey to Pretoria.

The dignitaries were being given about three minutes for quiet reflection over the glass-fronted coffin.

Today and tomorrow are for the public, although access is expected to be tightly controlled, with restrictions on cellphones and cameras.

Long lines were expected to form as mourners arrive from daybreak.

Local media reported that a construction crew had worked overnight since Saturday, in the rain, to get the 7.2m-high marquee ready.

On Saturday, Mandela's body will be flown by the military south to the province of Eastern Cape where he grew up.

Again, thousands are expected to line the streets to greet his casket, accompanied by family and elders, once it reaches his home in the remote village of Qunu.

It had been expected the South African flag would be replaced by a traditional Xhosa chief's robe, but elders have chosen to leave the flag in place to reflect the fact that Mandela was the nation's most beloved son.

Ten days of national mourning will culminate on Sunday with a night vigil and a quieter farewell.

Affectionately known by his tribal name, Madiba, Mandela will be buried on Sunday in Qunu.

Rituals will include a family member telling the body of Mandela where he is being moved to, in order to prevent his spirit becoming restless.

His grandchildren will also recite poetry.

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