Mandela wake overwhelmed by mourners

Mandela wake overwhelmed by mourners
Mourners line along the street as the funeral cortege carrying the coffin of former South African President Nelson Mandela drives through, on its way to the Union Buildings in Pretoria December 13, 2013.

PRETORIA - The last day of Nelson Mandela's lying in state triggered a massive turnout Friday, forcing the government to appeal for mourners to stay away.

Large numbers had camped out in order to secure an early place in the queue, but as of 7:30 am (0530 GMT) there were already 50,000 waiting in line.

"We urge people to please NOT make their way to the park and ride facilities," the government information service said in a written statement.

Given that only 24,000 people managed to pay their last respects to South Africa's first black president the day before, many queing on Friday looked set to be disappointed.

There was no indication whether the viewing hours would be extended, as happened during the country's first democratic election in 1994 when voting booths were kept open late to allow people to cast their ballots.

Friday was the last of three public viewing days, before Mandela's casket is removed and transported to his boyhood home of Qunu in Eastern Cape province for burial on Sunday.

Tens of thousands had also lined up on Thursday, but many were turned away as the system was unable to cope with the vast numbers of people wanting to say a final farewell.

Mandela's casket is scheduled to be flown to Qunu early Saturday morning, a day before the actual burial on his family's estate.

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