Tears as Mandela lies in state

December 11, 2013 3:33 pm
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Another landmark is the Palace of Justice, the court where Mandela famously stood trial in 1963-64 for treason and sabotage with 10 other co-defendants.

His conviction and subsequent life sentence marked the beginning of a 27-year jail stint, from which he finally emerged in 1990 as the structure of apartheid crumbled around its white minority supporters.

The cortege will pass near the one-time home of Paul Kruger, the father of the Afrikaner nation.

“Oom (Uncle) Paul” was the president of the Transvaal, leading a resistance movement against British rule during the first Anglo-Boer War, which began in 1880.

That Afrikaner nationalism later morphed into support for the National Party, which introduced apartheid.

The funeral procession will be repeated for three days, ending each time at the Union Buildings where previous presidents signed aspects of the apartheid system into law.

The public will be allowed to view the casket each afternoon, before Mandela’s body is transported to his boyhood home of Qunu in the Eastern cape for its eventual burial on Sunday.

The lying in state was a sombre, subdued affair compared to Tuesday’s celebratory memorial service in Soweto – the crucible of the anti-apartheid movement.

Tens of thousands of people attended the event in Soweto’s World Cup stadium where US President Barack Obama led foreign tributes to the life and legacy of Mandela, whose appeal and influence spread far beyond his native land.

Mandela had been critically ill for months, but the announcement of his death was still a body blow to a country struggling with multiple social and economic challenges.

For many, Mandela – even a frail, aged and retired Mandela – represented, while alive, a moral beacon.

Current President Jacob Zuma was roundly booed by large portions of the crowd at Tuesday’s memorial service, a sign of growing impatience with Mandela’s successors to deliver on promises of equality and prosperity.

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