Mandela viewing procession begins smoothly

Sarah Evans

The public has gathered in Pretoria to catch a glimpse of the body of former president Nelson Mandela, as it lays in state at the Union Buildings.

Mourners arrived to line parts of the streets for a viewing of the procession, early on Tuesday morning, some carrying South African flags and vuvuzelas. (Reuters)

A procession carrying the coffin of former president Nelson Mandela's body arrived at the Union Buildings at 8am after leaving from the 1 Military Hospital in Pretoria. 

Mandela will lie in state at the Union Buildings from December 11 to December 13, and the room where he is held will be renamed the Nelson Mandela Amphitheatre, President Jacob Zuma announced on Tuesday. 

Mourners arrived to line parts of the streets for a viewing of the procession early on Tuesday morning, some carrying South African flags and vuvuzelas. 

However, large parts of the streets were empty. 

Members of the public will be allowed to view the body after 12pm on Wednesday, to allow for the Gauteng provincial government to view the body first. 

Government announced this week that a delegation led by the presidency, heads of state and Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane would converge at the Tshwane City Hall at 7.30am. 

View the body
The delegation, which included the full complement of Gauteng provincial government leaders, would be led to the Union Buildings​ by the executive mayor of Tshwane, Kgosientso Ramokgopa. 

The delegation then viewed the body with the Mandela family. 

Meanwhile, the City of Tshwane has arranged public park and ride facilities to-and-from the Union Buildings, and no private vehicles will be allowed at the venue. 

"Certain roads in City of Tshwane will be closed to pass through from 1 Military Hospital to the Union Buildings, where his body will be laying in state," said spokesperson Selby Bokaba.

The Old Pretoria Road, Kgosi Mampuru Street (former Potgieter Street) and Madiba Street (former Vermeulen Street) towards Union Buildings will be closed from Wednesday to Friday.

"The public should note that all the roads adjacent to the Union Buildings will be closed to traffic during the three-day period."

All photographs by Reuters

The Jan Smuts Drive (Old Johannesburg Road) will be closed from the off-ramp to Eufees Road and the N14 freeway from Eufees Road.

"Selected sections of the route will be reopened once the area has been cleared by security personnel."

Park and ride
The public were advised to use alternative routes and not to travel through the Pretoria city centre during those times.

But members of the public were invited to line the route and form a public guard of honour for Madiba when his body is being transported through the week.

The Tshwane Events Centre, LC De Villiers Sports Facility in Hatfield and Fountains Valley Park will be used as park and ride facilities to the Union Building. – Additional reporting by Sapa


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