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Mandela lies in state as thousands say 'goodbye'

Mandela lies in state as thousands say 'goodbye'
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Thousands of people have queued to view the body of former South African President Nelson Mandela in the country’s capital, Pretoria.

Crowds also gathered to catch a glimpse of Mandela’s coffin as it was taken in procession to the Union Buildings, where his body will lie in state from Wednesday to Friday.

These are the same government buildings where he was sworn in as South Africa’s first black president in 1994. Over the three-day period, Mandela’s remains will be taken to the Military Hospital during the evening, according to government officials.

People queued throughout the city on Wednesday, hoping for the chance to see Madiba’s body.

Although thousands managed to gain entry to pay their respects, there were reportedly hundreds who were turned away before public viewing ended.

One man had brought his daughter to see Madiba.

“Since the morning she was here,” he said. “She was patient. She’s excited but they have closed.”

Another was upset not to have been able to see the former president, asking “Why must they stop us? Madiba is waiting for us. Why must they stop us going there?”

Among those paying their respects inside the Union Buildings were Madiba’s widow Graca Machel, current President of South Africa Jacob Zuma and some celebrity figures, such as U2’s Bono.

Nelson Mandela will be buried on Sunday, following a traditional ceremony in his home village of Qunu.