Nelson Mandela: Lying in State


Nelson Mandela: Lying in State

David Dimbleby introduces edited coverage of the lying in state of the late Nelson Mandela in South Africa's seat of government, the Union Buildings in Pretoria.


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Good evening and welcome back to Pretoria, on a rather stormy

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evening. Nelson Mandela's body has been lying in state here today. The

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atmosphere in South Africa's capital city, very different from what it

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was in the stadium in Johannesburg yesterday for the memorial service.

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This was the first time since Mandela's death, last Thursday, that

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his coffin had been seen in public, and people were lining the route to

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catch against of it as it was driven along the city's streets in the

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early morning, a procession which began at the military hospital,

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where the body had been kept overnight, before making its way

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under escort to the Union Buildings high on the hill behind me here. It

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is a big change from yesterday, when, as in Johannesburg, it was

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teaming with rain. You will remember people saying it was gold's sign of

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grace to give rain at a funeral, and it rather reduced the number of

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people who came to the football stadium. And here it was exactly the

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same, pouring with rain all day long. But today is much more

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cheerful, might mean that people come out onto the streets to see the

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coughing going past. There have been people dancing in the streets

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already along the route, which takes us up -- coffin -- from the hospital

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itself, past the old monument, past the Freedom Park, set up as a

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reminder of all of those people who have given their lives in the cause

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of frieze, past the present, and then into the centre of Pretoria,

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past church square, and finally, winding up to these Union Buildings

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here. And here is the band, on its way. On its way to the amphitheatre,

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I suspect, where the coffin will lie in state. Yes, it is marching along

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the Esplanade, just in front of the amphitheatre, with the gardens

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swooping down to the bottom, and the big memorial, in Afrikaans and

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English there. There is an army band, and it is led by a band from

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the air force. I am joined here by Dr Mamphela

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Ramphele, a very, very distinguished political fighter, I suppose is the

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right way to describe you. You go back to the very heart of the

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struggle, you were the partner of Steve Biko, who was murdered,

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assassinated, and you saw many friends killed in that era. When you

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go past the coffin, if you do, what with your thoughts be, will they be

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back there? My thoughts are likely to be back to the first day I saw Mr

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Mandela, which was July 31 1988. But there will also be thoughts of

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gratitude, that such a great man was able to help us conclude a struggle

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which has become a stalemate. And my thoughts will also be about, how do

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we take forward his legacy? How do we honour this great man, in terms

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of making sure that we complete the Long Walk To Freedom, which has not

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yet been completed for 80% of South Africa's people? How did you

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yourself first become involved in the battle against apartheid but

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events because some people took no part in that, just lived lives under

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apartheid, but there were others who decided that they should stand up

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and fight, and you were one of those, so how did that come about? I

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was fortunate to be part of a community of students, only about 15

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of us, at the medical school, which was only for black students, it was

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called Natale University Non-european Section. And we had

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happily called ourselves non-European is, non-whites, until,

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after many months of discussions, of reading up on Martin Luther King, on

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the black power struggle in the US, issues in West Africa, we came to a

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slowly evolving conclusion that the major problem why apartheid was so

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powerful, conduct and by Emma minority over a large majority, was

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because they had imprisoned our minds. Let's just go back to the

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route for a moment. The coffin with Nelson Mandela goes on a very

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interesting route. It passes, among other things, the main prison in

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Pretoria, and it passes the place where Nelson Mandela was put on

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trial and sentenced to life imprisonment. Clive Myrie is a long

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that route. I am pleased to say, I have got a couple of people who have

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come down here to Madiba Street and are willing to talk to us. Thank you

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very much for being with us. I just want you to explain why it is

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important for you to be here today. It is an absolute Lessing to be part

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of this historical memorial event. For me to be able to pay my last

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respects for Nelson Mandela, he was such a great person, such a loving

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person, and we all love him, it does not matter who you are in South

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Africa or worldwide, we all loved him. And it is a huge loss for all

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of us. And it is my way of paying tribute to him today, this morning,

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because I could not make it yesterday, it was impossible. So,

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this is my opportunity to view the casket when it goes past and take

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that moment and hold onto it for ever. The coffin, draped in the

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national flag. And now, for the first time, crowds on either side

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cheering as it goes past, somebody throwing flowers.

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This is the Metropolitan Police escort for the hearse. It goes past,

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as I was saying, the central prison in Pretoria, where Nelson Mandela

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was first imprisoned, imprisoned for five years, for leaving the country

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illegally, if you can believe. And he served the first part of his

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sentence here in Britain Tory, given prisoner number... -- here in

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Pretoria. It was a pretty dismal place. I think Winnie Mandela

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herself was also imprisoned for a time in the jail in Pretoria. Here

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is the cortege, escorted by the police.

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It draws up on the terrace, on the front side of the Union Buildings.

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This is just below the amphitheatre where, just under 20 years ago, he

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took the oath of office as president. I have been joined here

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in the studio by a professor. Thank you very much for joining us. This

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service, this ceremony, to what extent is it a traditional African

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service which we are seeing here, a traditional recognition? First of

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all, thank you for that question. This service here is where people

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are going to view the body of Nelson Mandela. First, they are paying

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their last respects. Secondly, it is helping them to release him to go.

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Thirdly, it is also a healing process. In other words, now that

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people have seen him, that is the body, even those that did not accept

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yet that he has gone, they are now able to say, we have seen him, and

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he is gone. And that might be some form of healing to them.

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There are moments when the family actually speaks to the body, is this

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one of them, or is that at the actual burial? I was being told

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yesterday that you speak to the body to tell it where it is and what is

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happening to it. That's right. The belief is that even though the

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person has passed away, but he is not actually dead, dead, dead. So,

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people can still actually communicate with him. Remember, he

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is now becoming an ancestor of the family. So, people must from time to

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time communicate with him. And they also believe that he is awake, he

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can hear, so that is why we need to always tell him that this is where

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we are now, we are going there. This is what is going to happen now. So

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that he is aware of what is happening around him. Is this done

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by whispering to the coffin or actually talking out lied -- out

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loud? Some people can talk like I am talking to you now, so that even the

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other man was of the family can hear what he is saying. I think most of

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the time that is happening. The Escort of the military police,

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in the White helmets, in the front. The guard of honour to the right.

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And the band just beyond them. The grandson of Nelson Mandela, a

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controversial figure in the family, standing, waiting for his

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grandfather's coffin to be brought out.

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The chaplain general of the Armed Forces, in uniform. There is a pause

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now. The helicopter is still buzzing over, as we are waiting for the

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coffin to be brought out from the hearse. I think they were also

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commenting on the noise above them. And so, on this hot morning, it is

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now just after ten to eight here in Pretoria, we are waiting for what

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will be first of all a private moment, when the family greet the

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body and the coffin, and the public moment when the politicians do. And

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that will be followed by the public at large. These are senior

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officers, who will be the guard that carries the coffin, the coffin

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bearers. The guard of honour present arms,

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and the band plays the national anthem.

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The terrace of the Union Buildings on the highest hill in Pretoria,

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with the guard of honour and the pallbearers about to carry Nelson

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Mandela's Coffin from the hearse which bought it from the hospital in

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Pretoria, up to the quadrangle at the top, where it will lie in state.

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George Alagiah is that the Union Buildings.

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It was just a few moments ago that Nelson Mandela's body was brought

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here, and it was one of those spine tingling moments. So much of the

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last few days has been about noise, and here, and we saw the guard of

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honour salute, as his body was brought in, and the national anthem

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being sunk, that in itself was the product of Nelson Mandela's

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determination to reconcile black and white South Africans, part of the

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old Afrikaner anthem subsumed into the song that we almost, the anthem

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that we all know, sunk by South African blacks over the ages. We can

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see the Coffin, and edge of it, at least, and the top has been taken

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off. Now, what we are waiting for is for the official dignitaries, the

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families, to come round, get their chance to spend a few private

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moments with the body of Nelson Mandela.

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I have been joined by George Bizos, the famous and distinguished lawyer

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who defended Nelson Mandela, who is a close friend of the family. When

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did you see him last? It was two days before he was hospitalised. He

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was having lunch, helped write Graca Machel two finishers meal, for about

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half an hour, and we spoke about various things. I had left my jacket

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in the car. When we were saying goodbye, he said, George, make sure

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you do not leave your jacket behind. That is the last time I

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spoke to him, and I heard of his condition, critical but stable,

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which was the slogan given out regularly to the media, I knew from

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Graca Machel that he was not really able to communicate meaningfully,

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and I decided to ask to go and see him, and I will live with that last

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memory. Here is the family, arriving. We

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think this is the moment when the close family and the government

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together, apparently, will come and pay homage in the amphitheatre of

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the Union Buildings. The glass topped Coffin is placed

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under a canopy in the amphitheatre of the Union Buildings. A guard of

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honour made up of four South African naval officers, one standing at each

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corner. The family the first to pay their respects, led by President

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Jacob Zuma, Graca Machel, Nelson Mandela's widow, Winnie, and their

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daughter. And then the grandchildren. Behind them, even the

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great grandchildren will come. The distinctive figure, who was on

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Robben Island with Nelson Mandela. Graca Machel seems to have had a

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private moment, giving her husband's body, away from the TV

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cameras, and she is led away from that.

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The family, having gone past, it is the turn of former heads of state,

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the second group of mourners, including Thabo Mbeki, his wife, and

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various members of the South African government, and foreign

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dignitaries, among them, the Liberian President, the Zimbabwean

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president, Robert Mugabe. There is the proud figure of the

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President of Zambia. The former president, I should say. And here,

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by the Coffin, Robert Mugabe paying his respects.

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And so they go on, the former South African president FW de Klerk, and

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his wife are here, making their way towards the Coffin. And foreign

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representatives, that is the king of the Netherlands, who took over the

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throne when his mother advocated earlier this year. -- abdicated.

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Bono and his wife, waiting to go through. FW de Klerk saying a last

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farewell to the man with whom he shared the Nobel Peace Prize. A

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poignant moment for some of the most trusted friends of Nelson Mandela,

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the lady in the blue, accompanied by Bono and Naomi Campbell, a friend of

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Nelson Mandela. The former Canadian Prime Minister

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on the left there. Nelson Mandela's grandson has been

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standing, watching over the Coffin, since the moment it arrived earlier

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this morning. And now the family and a dignitaries have finished paying

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their respects, the rest of the day and the next two days are given over

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to members of the public who want to say their goodbyes.

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And so it continued for the rest of the day, with the citizens of South

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Africa queueing and filing past and paying their respects to the body of

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Nelson Mandela. Tonight, the Coffin has been taken back to the military

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hospital before returning here in the morning for two more days of

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lying in state. On Saturday, Nelson Mandela will be taken to the airport

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and flown to the Eastern Cape for the final journey to Qunu, his

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ancestral home, where his funeral will take place on Sunday morning.

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We are going to be back on BBC Two at 7pm on Saturday for Nelson

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Mandela's homecoming. For now, from a stormy Pretoria, good night.

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David Dimbleby introduces edited coverage of the lying in state of the late Nelson Mandela in Pretoria, South Africa. Members of the public are expected to line the route as the funeral procession makes its way to the Union Buildings where heads of state and members of the public pay their respects.


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