Hundreds of South Africans, world leaders, celebrities and relatives of Nelson Mandela arrived in Pretoria to pay tribute to the late anti-apartheid icon.

Mandela's body is lying in state at an amphitheatre atop a hill in the South African capital where he was sworn in 19 years ago as the country's first black president.

People from all walks of life queued outside the Union Buildings to have a final look at Mandela's face through a glass bubble atop the coffin.

Before the public were allowed in, Mandela's extended family, including his widow former wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela filed past the casket.

Former president Thabo Mbeki and South Africa's current leader Jacob Zuma also paid their respects.

So did F.W. de Klerk, South Africa last apartheid-era president who was awarded a Nobel peace prize with Mandela for ending the white rule.

Celebrities like U2 frontman Bono and top model Naomi Campbell also paid their respects as Mandela lay in state.

Many wept; other just stared at the coffin in silence. A patrolling police officer stood meters away holding a box of tissues.

A bus service has been set up to take mourners at the Union Buildings.

Mandela's remains were taken to the amphitheatre, which has been named after him by a presidential decree, earlier in the morning.

Thousands of people lined the streets to pay tribute to the anti-apartheid hero as motorcycle-riding police officers escorted the black hearse and army helicopters circled overhead.

The procession is to be repeated in the next two days. Mandela's body is to be driven back to the 1 Military Hospital in the evenings and re-transported at the Union Buildings in the morning.

"The public are encouraged to form a guard of honour by lining the streets," the government said.

Mandela's body is then to be flown to Qunu, his ancestral home in the Eastern Cape Province, for burial.


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