Cortege to take Mandela's body to lie in state

Updated: 2013-12-11 15:16 (Agencies)

Cortege to take Mandela's body to lie in state

Military outriders escort the funeral cortege carrying the coffin of former South African president Nelson Mandela as it leaves the 1 Military Hospital on the outskirts of Pretoria Dec 11, 2013, on its way to the Union Buildings. [Photo/Agencies]

PRETORIA - A cortege transporting the body of former South African president and anti-apartheid hero Nelson Mandela left the capital's main military hospital on Wednesday en route to the Union Buildings, where he will lie in state.

Thousands of people lined the streets as a procession of police motorcycles lead the black hearse carrying Mandela's coffin, which was draped in the South African flag.

Mandela's death last Thursday at the age of 95 has sparked an outpouring of grief and mourning in the country he led from 1994 to 1999 as its first black president.

"This a significant moment for me and my children," said 48-year-old teacher Thapelo Dlamini, who had been on waiting on the street for two hours with his two children.

Mandela's body will lie in state for three days at the Union Buildings, where he was inaugurated as president in 1994 after the first all-race elections that ended decades of white-minority apartheid rule.

He will be buried on Sunday in Qunu, his ancestral home in the rolling hills of the Eastern Cape province, 700 km (450 miles) south of Johannesburg.

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