Mandela lies in state: South Africans told not to join queue

South Africans have been warned not to attempt to go to see Nelson Mandela’s body in the capital, Pretoria, unless they are already in the queue.
The anti-apartheid leader’s body is lying in state at the Union Buildings, where he was sworn in as South Africa’s first black president in 1994. Tens of thousands have been flocking to the venue to pay their respects. Mr Mandela will be buried at his ancestral home in Qunu on Sunday. He died on 5 December aged 95. Friday is the last of three days for people to file past the body in Pretoria after which it will be flown to the rural area of the Eastern Cape where he grew up. The authorities have closed one of main park-and-ride areas at the Pretoria Showgrounds, and the crowds lining up for buses have all gone home without any trouble. Earlier, the government said it could not guarantee everyone already waiting for buses would get in. The BBC witnessed a sizeable group of people breaking through police lines into the Union Building gardens towards the front of the queue, but they were then contained by officers. Collins Chabane, the minister in the South African presidency, says 21,000 mourners viewed the body of Mr Mandela, known by his clan name Madiba, on Wednesday. The next day 39,000 did so and an estimated 4,000 people an hour have been paying their respects on Friday.
On Tuesday, tens of thousands of South Africans joined scores of world leaders for a national memorial service as part of a series of commemorations for Mr Mandela. The African National Congress (ANC) has apologised for any offence caused by the sign language interpreter who was hired for the memorial
service for Tuesday. Sign language experts said his gestures did not make any sense. But Thamsanqa Jantji has denied being a fraud, and said he had
schizophrenia and panicked on stage when he began hallucinating. The BBC’s James Robbins, who is the queue outside the Union Buildings, says some people have been in the line for at least seven or eight hours. Some are angry more time has not been allowed for this ceremonial, others say even if they do not reach his coffin for a personal farewell it will have been enough simply to be there, he says. Nosiswe Maduna and her 14-year-old daughter, who travelled 220km (136 miles) from Senekal in Free State to come to Pretoria, were among thousands turned away on Thursday. They spent the night in the open at a petrol station and began queuing at 03:00 local time (05:00 GMT) so as not to be disappointed again. “It was my daughter who said we should sleep here and try again, because she didn’t want to go back without seeing him,” she told the AFP news agency. Correspondents who have visited the coffin said Mr Mandela’s body could be seen through a glass screen, dressed in one of his trademark patterned shirts. At each end of the casket stood two navy officers clad in white uniforms, with their swords pointing down. After 17:30 local time (15:30 GMT), the body will be returned to One Military Hospital before being flown from Waterkloof Military Airbase near Pretoria to Mthatha on Saturday. Lt-Gen Xolani Mabangu, from the defence force, said chief mourners among the Madiba clan and Mandela family, as well as senior government officials, would accompany the body, the South African Press
Association reports. A military guard of honour will welcome the arrival, and the coffin will be placed on a gun carriage and transported to a hearse.
Mr Mandela’s body will then be taken to his home village of Qunu, where the Thembu community will conduct a traditional ceremony. According to South Africa’s Times newspaper, it is not clear whether the Thembu monarch King Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo will be attending the funeral. According to custom, he should play a central role in the rituals, it reports. But the king appears to be unhappy about some aspects of protocol and government ministers and Mandela family members have been meeting him to urgently convince him to be there, it says. A national day of reconciliation will take place on 16 December when a statue of Mr Mandela will be unveiled at the Union Buildings. – BBC News