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Mandela's body arrives for viewing in South Africa



PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) -- A flag-draped casket containing the body of Nelson Mandela arrived with a military honor guard Wednesday for display in an amphitheater where he was sworn in 19 years ago as South Africa's first black president.
Army helicopters had been circling overhead but then a sudden quiet fell over the amphitheater as the hearse arrived. Eight warrant officers representing the various services and divisions of the South African National Defense Force carried the casket, led by a military chaplain in a purple stole. The officers set down the coffin and removed the flag.
Motorcycle-riding police officers had escorted the hearse from a military hospital outside of Pretoria to the Union Buildings.
"I just hope I won't cry," said Paul Letageng, 47, an employee there. "It's amazing to think that 19 years ago he was inaugurated there, and now he's lying there. If he was not here we would not have had peace in South Africa."

Mandela emerged from 27 years in prison under the white racist government in 1990, appealed for forgiveness and reconciliation and became president in 1994 after the country's first all-race democratic elections.

People lined the streets to watch the procession drive slowly to the Union Buildings. They sang old songs from the struggle against the apartheid regime and called out their farewells to Mandela, who died Dec. 5 at the age of 95. Traffic was backed up for several kilometers (miles) on a highway leading into Pretoria.

President Jacob Zuma named the amphitheater after Mandela by decree Tuesday. The Union Buildings, described by the South African government as a "modern-day acropolis," sit atop a hill overlooking Pretoria. The architect who designed it envisioned its two wings, made of half a million cubic feet (14,100 cubic meters) of stone, representing the Afrikaans and English languages spoken in the country - but none of the land's native languages.

Even from its inception, the building long has been considered a symbol of governance in the country - and of apartheid until Mandela took office.

Mandela's grandson Mandla and Defense Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula led mourners into the viewing area. After casket bearers left, four junior officers in white uniform from the South African navy remained to keep watch over the body, rotating position every hour.

Mandela's body will lie in state for three days. It has a glass cover allowing mourners to look in on Mandela one last time. Officials have banned cameras from the viewing area and people are being asked to turn off their mobile phones.

Mandela family members, his wife Graca Machel, his former wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and Zuma all attended the viewing Wednesday. Other world leaders were expected to pass by his coffin.

Each day, Mandela's coffin will be driven back to 1 Military Hospital to be held overnight. Authorities have asked the public to line the street as an honor guard for each trip.

Mandela's body will be flown Saturday to Qunu, his home in the Eastern Cape Province. He will be buried Sunday.

On Tuesday, world leaders including U.S. President Barack Obama eulogized Mandela. In his speech, Obama called Mandela "the last great liberator of the 20th century."

"We will never see the likes of Nelson Mandela again," Obama said. "But let me say to the young people of Africa, and young people around the world - you can make his life's work your own."

Gambrell reported from Johannesburg.


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lbaum24129 December 11 2013 at 11:11 PM

burn in hell Mandela...communist and terrorist pig

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Earl Fromley December 11 2013 at 10:46 PM

A communist and leader of many blacks who killed innocent white families, maybe he is in a extra hot corner of hades!

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raceri370 December 11 2013 at 11:10 PM

thats where he belongs he was a dam terriost good riddance

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AMAJ! December 11 2013 at 10:26 PM

To All The Rednecks who came out in droves to spew their hatred, Haters, Haters, Haters caught on Fire... MADIBA will have a long legacy and there is nothing you can do about that!

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2 replies to AMAJ!'s comment
craig December 11 2013 at 10:42 PM

were told we have to forgive those rednecks for all their hate.... i dont want to but my jesus tells me too..

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raceri370 December 11 2013 at 11:28 PM

just watch camel jockey lol

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1 reply to raceri370's comment
ohiousaman December 12 2013 at 7:29 AM

raceri...
Do you read much???

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Rick December 11 2013 at 10:10 PM

Why say mean spirited things to someone beyond the grave...... let the man rest in peace. Thankyou :)

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irishroyal317 December 11 2013 at 9:50 PM

We have lost a great man. God bless his memory.

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htharley45 December 11 2013 at 10:04 PM

a great terriorist you mean

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2 replies to htharley45's comment
Walt December 11 2013 at 10:36 PM

APPARENTLY YOUR REDNECK REAR END HAS NO IDEA OF HISTORY, IT JUST REACTS TO ANYONE OF ANOTHER COLOR. POOR YOU.

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raceri370 December 11 2013 at 11:30 PM

yea a dead one thats the best

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Delta19USA December 11 2013 at 9:48 PM

Mandela was nothing more than a terrorist and a murderer. He couldn't run a town let alone a country. Just look at every country that was returned to the African to run and control - every one of them has far more crime and is bankrupt. And they call white people racist!

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htharley45 December 11 2013 at 9:53 PM

other words he was the same thing as martin luther.a trouble maker

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3 replies to htharley45's comment
Walt December 11 2013 at 10:37 PM

ON MY ANOTHER REDNECK WITH NO IDEA OF HISTORY OR THE TRUTH, HE WAS A BLACK JESUS, FORGIVING AND A LEADER THAT BROUGHT AFRICA TOGETHER WITH NON VIOLANCE. TRY THIS LOOK FOR THE TRUTH, IN SOMETHING CALLED BOOKS.

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magggiepi December 11 2013 at 8:23 PM

"We will never see the likes of Nelson Mandela again," Obama said. "But let me say to the young people of Africa, and young people around the world - you can make his life's work your own."
And if you have no talent and no skills you can be President of the United States and take a Selfie at a great man's memorial service! WHOO HOO WTG OBAMA! YOU DA MAN!

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luvhairymen2 December 11 2013 at 8:36 PM

Yeah...Just like the priveliged white guy who goes to an ivy league college, parties all the way through, and graduates with no talent and no skills, fails at business ventures not once, but 5 times, but can still be president because of Daddy, and schmoozing with bigoted bible thumpers. WHOO HOO WTG BUSH!

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3 replies to luvhairymen2's comment
Tonya December 11 2013 at 7:11 PM

Godspeed Nelson Mandela, your influence, your legacy will live on

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Hello, Mary December 11 2013 at 7:01 PM

So ..... we who admired him can't see him once last time?

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1 reply to Hello, Mary's comment
raceri370 December 11 2013 at 11:43 PM

yes u can go where hes at in hell lol so go with him

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pedirnx December 11 2013 at 6:14 PM

Never met the man but feel like he has been a part of my entire life. I have always read the daily paper, from early childhood to this day, so Mandela story has always been apart of my psych. It is with great sorrow and much regret that it was in my State, in my city that he was treated the most disrespectful. I heard much regrets and apologies from leaders and citizens, during the past week. It doesn't matter, his work his done, his dues are paid in full. If anyone deserves a place in the Master Kingdom, it is, it is done, Nelson Mandela enjoy your rest.

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