South Africans will bid farewell to Nelson Mandela, the nation's first black president, as his body lies in state for three days following a send-off from dozens of global leaders at a rain-drenched memorial service.
The government expects as many as 2,000 people to file past Mandela's casket at the Union Buildings in Pretoria, and thousands more to line the streets of the capital to pay their respects. His body will then be transported on Dec. 14 to Qunu, the village where he spent part of his childhood in the Eastern Cape Province, before his funeral the next day.
"I will go to see his body in Pretoria," Aaron Ndlovu, a 62-year-old mechanic from Soweto, a township southwest of Johannesburg where Mandela once lived, said in an interview yesterday. "I need to pay my last respects. I'm so grateful to him."