Long lines as public gets Mandela closure

19:18, Dec 11 2013
Nelson Mandela's death
STREET SYMPATHY: Mourners react with song and dance on the street in Soweto where Mandela once lived.
Nelson Mandela's death
CANDLE LIGHT: South Africans have been laying tributes to Mandela since his death this month.
Desmond Tutu
MEMORIAL SERVICE: Former Archbishop of Cape Town and veteran anti-apartheid campaigner Desmond Tutu held a mass at Cape Town's Anglican St George's Cathedral for Mandela.
Nelson Mandela's death
BIG BANNER: In France, a huge banner featuring Mandela's face was hung from the foreign affairs ministry.
Nelson Mandela's death
PARLIAMENT SQUARE: In London, in the shadow of Big Ben, floral tributes were laid at the base of Mandela's statue.
Nelson Mandela's death
YOUNG TRIBUTES: A prayer ceremony was held at a school in the western Indian city of Ahmedabad.
Nelson Mandela memorial
CELEBRATION OF A LIFE: People start singing as they arrive for a mass memorial for Nelson Mandela at First National Bank Stadium in Johannesburg.
Nelson Mandela memorial
CELEBRATION OF A LIFE: The 95,000-seat stadium will host the main ceremony.
Nelson Mandela memorial
CELEBRATION OF A LIFE: People start singing as they arrive for a mass memorial for Nelson Mandela at First National Bank Stadium in Johannesburg.
Nelson Mandela memorial
CELEBRATION OF A LIFE: US President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama are escorted off the tarmac as they arrive in South Africa to attend a memorial service for Nelson Mandela.
Nelson Mandela memorial service
LIFE CELEBRATION: A woman in the crowd takes a moment for contemplation.
Nelson Mandela memorial service
LIFE CELEBRATION: Crowds have filled a stadium in Johannesburg to farewell former South African leader Nelson Mandela, who died last week at the age of 95.
Nelson Mandela memorial service
LIFE CELEBRATION: British Prime Minister David Cameron was among world leaders to attend.
Nelson Mandela memorial service
LIFE CELEBRATION: Young and old came to pay their respects.
Nelson Mandela memorial service
LIFE CELEBRATION: Unusual adornments were worn by some.
Nelson Mandela's death
FORMER LEADER: Ex-South African president FW de Klerk takes his seat in the stadium.
Nelson Mandela's death
EX-WIFE: Winnie Mandela, ex-wife of Mandela, is seen in this still image from the South Africa Broadcasting Corporation.
Nelson Mandela's death
MEMORIAL PRESENCE: Graca Machel, Mandela's widow, was present at the stadium.
Nelson Mandela's death
CURRENT LEADER: South African President Jacob Zuma waves as he arrives at the stadium. He was later booed by the crowd.
Nelson Mandela
A mourner pumps his fist during the Nelson Mandela memorial in Soweto.
Nelson Mandela
Mourners cover up with umbrellas as US President Barack Obama delivers his eulogy.
Jacob Zuma
Under-fire South African President Jacob Zuma was booed and jeered before his speech.
Barack Obama
An image of Nelson Mandela shows on the big screen as US President Barack Obama speaks.
Mourners at Mandela memorial
Attendees sing and dance at Nelson Mandela's memorial.
Barack Obama
US President Barack Obama delivers his eulogy.
Barack Obama
US President Barack Obama greets Nelson Mandela's widow Graca Machel.
Nelson Mandela memorial
The crowds gather at Soccer City stadium for Nelson Mandela's memorial.
Nelson Mandela memorial
J. Nico Scholten, from Amsterdam, holds up a photo of his meeting with Nelson Mandela.
Nelson Mandela memorial
A child draped in a South African flag at Soccer City stadium for Nelson Mandela's memorial.
Mourners at Mandela memorial
Elizabeth Alexander was on holiday from Sydney when Mandela died. She walked in the rain to get to the stadium.
Mourners at Mandela memorial
Aucklander Ray Vantrhaar was back home in South Africa for the funeral of his father.
Nelson Mandela's coffin in state
GLASS COFFIN: Nelson Mandela is lying in state for mourners to pay respects.
Nelson Mandela's death
SOMBRE ARRIVAL: Personnel carry the coffin on Nelson Mandela into Union Buildings, Pretoria.
Nelson Mandela memorial
South Africans wait in line to pay respects to Nelson Mandela's body in Pretoria.
Nelson Mandela memorial
South Africans wait in line to pay respects to Nelson Mandela's body in Pretoria.
Nelson Mandela memorial
South Africans wait in line to pay respects to Nelson Mandela's body in Pretoria.
Nelson Mandela memorial
Thousands of South Africans wait in line to pay respects to Nelson Mandela's body in Pretoria.
Nelson Mandela memorial
Thousands of South Africans wait in line to pay respects to Nelson Mandela's body in Pretoria.
FW de Klerk
Former South African president FW de Klerk walks away with wife Elita after paying respects to Nelson Mandela.
Nelson Mandela
A flame burns near a portrait of Nelson Mandela at the Nelson Mandela Museum in Qunu.

For the last five days Martha has cried every time she saw a picture of Nelson Mandela.

After viewing the body of her anti-apartheid hero today, the 94-year-old said there would be no more tears.

She left her leaking tin shack home, in Pretoria, early in the morning and spent much of the day waiting in line in the baking sun, and on buses.

Only once world leaders, and pop singer Bono, had filed through to pay their respects, were ordinary South Africans allowed through.

"My heart must stay level," Martha said, wrapped in an ANC flag. "There's happiness now [I've seen him]. No more crying. We must live together in harmony now, black and white together."

Mandela's coffin lay at the Union Buildings, the government offices. He gave his inaugural presidential address from the amphitheatre, which now bears his name, in 1994.

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Early in the morning his body was escorted there by a police motor cycle cavalcade. The streets were lined with people watching the procession, dancing, ululating and singing political anthems from the struggle against apartheid.

Traffic coming into the capital was at a standstill for most of the morning. The same cortege will take place every morning until Friday.

Thousands waited patiently all day in snaking lines on the streets and lawns surrounding the hill on which Union Buildings sits. They were bused in convoys up to the marquee where Mandela's remains were laid out. His half-open coffin was draped in white cloth and he was dressed in a black and gold Madiba shirt.

Jenny Letsholo, 63, queued from 7.45am to pay her last respects for just a few seconds. Afterwards, placing her hand on her heart, she said it was "very sad." "I just say that now that Madiba rests."

Near the back of the queue, Clement Mareme, had been standing in line for more than two hours. 'I'll sleep here," he said."He means everything, he means democracy, he means the world."

Sitting on grass under the shade of the tree, Caroline Gwazube and Thandi Sidinile had got someone to stand in the queue on their behalf. By late afternoon they had been waiting for more than seven hours.

"We're tired," Gwazube explained. "But it's very important to us to pay our last respects to Tata. He love us. He has done more for us than anyone."

Nearby, Jessica Ntumba, 14, was playing with her five year old sister Grace, and brother, Salem Semanja, 13.

"I feel so bad, I almost cried," she said of Mandela's death. "Without him I wouldn't be in school with white people."

Hawkers were doing a roaring trade in merchandise bearing Mandela's face, and ice-creams, as the lines got longer and longer. Resourceful families had brought food and were picnicking on the lawns.

Shereez Burds, 20, stood in line with Jo-Ann Kok, 21, and Curtley Nell, seven. After two hours, her patience had not diminished.

"It's important because of everything he did for us."

As she passed by Mandela's body she planned to remember the 27 years he spent in prison.

"I'm a little bit sad."

Sylvester Ngoepe and Thalita Kgaphola, from Pretoria, painted their faces with images of Mandela. "I want to celebrate a life well lived, but I'm sad for losing such a great man," Ngoepe said.

Fairfax Media