Mandela body in state
PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) – World leaders bowed and prayed today before the flag-draped casket containing the body of Nelson Mandela, having a final look at the anti-apartheid icon in the amphitheater where he was sworn in 19 years earlier as South Africa’s first black president.
Some made the sign of the cross, others simply spent a few moments gazing at Mandela’s face through a glass bubble atop the coffin at the Union Buildings, the government offices in South Africa’s executive capital, Pretoria.
Leaders like Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe, South African President Jacob Zuma and others passed by the casket in two lines. Four junior naval officers in white uniforms kept watch.
Celebrities like singer Bono of the band U2 also paid their respects. So did F.W. de Klerk, the last president of white rule who shared a Nobel Peace Prize with Mandela for ending the apartheid era.
Mandela’s widow Graca Machel, his former wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and other family members also viewed his body.
This morning, motorcycle-riding police officers escorted the hearse from a military hospital outside of Pretoria to the Union Buildings. People lined the streets to watch the procession, singing old songs from the struggle against the apartheid regime and calling out their farewells to Mandela, who died last Thursday at the age of 95.