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Body of Nelson Mandela lying in state in Pretoria

Dec. 11, 2013 at 7:23 AM
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PRETORIA, South Africa, Dec. 11 (UPI) -- South Africans viewed the body of Nelson Mandela lying in state Wednesday in Pretoria, where he was sworn in 19 years ago as the nation's first black president.

The body will lie in state for three days in the Union Buildings before his funeral Sunday in Eastern Cape province where he was born, grew up and retired after public life, the New York Times reported.

Tens of thousands of South Africans joined world leaders Tuesday at a national memorial ceremony at First National Bank Stadium in Soweto.

President Jacob Zuma was among the first mourners to view the coffin along with Mandela's family members, including his widow, Graca Machel, and his former wife, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.

Mandela, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, died Thursday. He was 95.

"I think it sunk in that he was really gone when you saw the casket inside," government employee Patricia Ramahanelo, 29, told the Times. "You think he's there but immediately when you see the coffin, it's done. He's gone. He's no more."

"I hope we live the legacy that he left for us," said Zelda Woodgate, 43, another government employee. "It's sad, but he's gone to rest."

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