Nelson Mandela's coffin arrives in his home village of Qunu ahead of funeral

A ceremonial military escort was cheered by crowds that lined the road as Mandela t-shirts were handed out

The body of Nelson Mandela has arrived at his ancestral home village of Qunu in South Africa’s Eastern Cape ahead of his state funeral on Sunday.

The coffin was driven in a hearse from Mthatha airport, 700 km (450 miles) south of Johannesburg.

A ceremonial military escort was cheered by crowds that lined the road as Mandela t-shirts were handed out.

Soldiers in full regalia were stationed on foot on either side of the road from the airport in Mthatha.

“We got up this morning at 2 am and drove from Port Elizabeth — it's about seven hours — and we got here now. We're waiting on to show our last respects to Madiba,” said one bystander, Ebrahim Jeftha.

The anti-apartheid activist's body will be taken to the Mandela homestead, where rituals will be performed including wrapping his body in leopard skin as a mark of respect and to show he was the son of a clan chief.  Nelson Mandela's flag-draped coffin leaves the Mthata airport Nelson Mandela's flag-draped coffin leaves the Mthata airport

Mandela wanted to spend his final months in his beloved rural village but instead was kept in a hospital in Pretoria, and then in his home in Johannesburg, where he had remained in critical condition until his death.

The funeral has been marred by a dispute in which the former archbishop Desmond Tutu said he was not invited – an apparent snub that the government denies.

 

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