Madiba’s body leaves Union Buildings

The former president’s body will now be prepared for transport to the Eastern Cape for his funeral.

People pay their respects to the late Nelson Mandela at the Union Buildings in Pretoria on 12 December 2013. Picture: Abed Ahmed/EWN.

PRETORIA - Former president Nelson Mandela's body has left the Union Buildings for the last time.

His grandson, Mandla, watched on as Madiba's coffin, draped in the South African flag, was placed in the hearse.

A brass band played the national anthem as military officials saluted.

Mandela's body was lying in state for three days at the seat of government in Pretoria.

Outside the 1 Military Hospital in Pretoria, where Mandela's body will remain before being flown to the Eastern Cape on Saturday, hundreds of people lined the streets to pay their final respects as the procession went past.

Many there were singing songs praising the father of the nation.

Government says over 100,000 people filed passed the former president's body as he lay in state this week.

But thousands more say they're angry and disappointed at being turned away from park and ride facilities in the capital.

Tempers flared as people tried to push to the front of the queue at a park and ride facility. Picture: Sebabatso Mosamo/EWN.

Many blamed government for missing their chance to pay their respects to Mandela.

Tactical response teams were deployed to various facilities in Pretoria after scuffles broke out earlier on Friday.

Frustration started mounting when government announced at noon that capacity had been reached.

Watch this video of Mandela's coffin being transported to the Union Buildings on Friday morning for the final time:


Throughout Friday, military, police and private security personnel rehearsed the funeral procession from Mthatha Airport.

Mandela's body will leave from Waterkloof Air Force Base on Saturday morning.

A procession will accompany his body to his hometown and final resting place in Qunu, a small village around 36 kilometres away from Mthatha, ahead of Sunday morning's official state funeral.

President Jacob Zuma deployed more than 11,000 members of the army to assist in transporting Madiba's body.

Once the former president's body arrives, a cultural receiving ceremony will be conducted and the military will also hold an exercise.

Around 4,000 people are expected to attend the funeral, but only 400 will be allowed at the burial site.

High-profile guests, include Prince Charles, Oprah Winfrey and a number of heads of state will attend the funeral.

Meanwhile, frustrated residents in the area voiced their displeasure at the fact that all the main events to honour Madiba have been held in other provinces and that they won't be able to participate in the final ceremony.

But the provincial government says 21 public mourning venues have been established across the province.

At the same time, government outlined how people in the Eastern Cape will be able to line the streets between Mthatha and Qunu.

_ Click here for information on road closures around Mthatha._

Eastern Cape Premier Noxolo Kiviet says people there will have their chance to say goodbye to Mandela.

"We have arranged for a civilian human chain that starts at the airport and goes right up to Qunu."

Ministers there say the next two days will be very different to what the world has seen in Pretoria, as the arrangements are now entirely up to the family and the military.

For an up-to-date and comprehensive guide to the various events taking place this week, including information on transport, see EWN's special guide, Saying goodbye to Madiba: Event planner.