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Mandela's body arrives in home village Qunu

A woman raises her fist as she watches the hearse carrying the body of former South African President Nelson Mandela drive by on its way to Mandela''s ancestral home in Qunu

The body of Nelson Mandela arrived today at his ancestral home of Qunu in South Africa's Eastern Cape, where it was greeted by singing, dancing local residents ahead of the anti-apartheid leader's state funeral set for the following day.

As police and military helicopters buzzed overheard, the hearse carrying the remains of South Africa's first black president rolled with a police escort into the hamlet of scatttered homes lying between green pastures.

Delighted residents broke into the South African national anthem as the cortege appeared on the road from Mthatha airport, 700 km (450 miles) south of Johannesburg.

Cheering crowds had lined parts of the road to pay their respects as the black hearse passed.

Mandela, who died on December 5 aged 95, will be buried in his family homestead in Qunu on Sunday after a state funeral combining military pomp and traditional rites of Mandela's Xhosa abaThembu clan.

It will be attended by family members, national leaders and foreign guests including Britain's Prince Charles and US civil rights activist Reverend Jessie Jackson.

Earlier, Mandela's body was flown with a fighter jet escort from Waterkloof airforce base in Pretoria, where the ruling African National Congress (ANC) had bade a formal farewell to "Comrade Mandela", its most historic leader.

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Tags:  Nelson Mandela  funeral  Pretoria  


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