Heartbroken mourners bid Mandela farewell
12 December 2013, 19:20
Pretoria - Having flown in from Australia to bid farewell
to Nelson Mandela, Graham Jacobs walked out of the Union Buildings with tears
streaming down his face.
Accompanied by his friend Fernanda Jonas, who held on
tightly to his hand, both said how "heartbroken and sad" they were.
Jacobs arrived from Australia on Monday and leaves on
"I needed some release. I couldn't spend my life not
coming back here to pay my respect to our greatest hero," he said weeping,
struggling to utter a word.
He left South Africa as a young boy.
"I felt love when I saw him lying there. It was both
joyful and sad, but I know that asking for him to live would be asking for the
impossible. His quality of life left a long time ago."
Thousands arrived on Thursday for the second day of
Mandela's lying in state.
Bibicha Mathondo, from the Democratic Republic of Congo,
currently a resident of Tshwane, said it was all about respect.
"I had to show some respect. This is how we look
when we go to funerals. This is Tata Madiba after all," said Mathondo, who
downplayed her long, six-hour wait in black, high-heeled shoes.
Most mourners were more cautious about their dress code
after Wednesday's call to dress appropriately.
Women wore skirts, doeks, and shawls over their shoulders.
While no one was turned away, police who stood managing
the queue near the coffin looked to see whether people were better dressed.
Women were asked to cover their shoulders or to wrap
something around their waists if they wore trousers.
For youngsters in their 20s, like Palesa Khambule and
Carmel Mukandila, it was the first time they had been this close to the
They had been waiting since 03:00.
"It took my breath away. My heart was beating so
fast, and I couldn't help but cry. He is lying there with such grace. He is
peaceful," Khambule said.
By noon, official figures of the number of people who
braved the heat to line the streets in Pretoria stood at more than 20 000.
City of Tshwane spokesperson Selby Bokaba said the
council was managing confusion and delays in busing people to the Union
Currently, 80 buses were being used to ferry mourners.
Bokaba said the number could increase.
Friends, colleagues, comrades and family of Nelson
Mandela are invited to share their memories and tributes, and to light a candle
for him, on his profile at Remembered.co.za.
- Share your memories of Nelson Mandela with us.