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Mourners besiege Mandela statue in London


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Mourners across the United Kingdom have besieged Parliament Square in central London, where the statue of Nelson Mandela is located to pay their respects to the anti-apartheid campaigner and former South African president who died on Thursday at the age of 95.With the South African flag flying at half-mast over Trafalgar Square, hundreds of people, many in tears, visited South Africa House to light candles and leave flowers.

Thousands of mourners and sympathizers started gathering from the early hours, on Friday, at Mandela’s statue outside Parliament.

A Ghanaian trainee barrister, Kwaku Awuku-Asabre, described the scene thus: “It’s like the last great man is dead.â€�

Mandela’s goddaughter Tanya von Ahlefeldt, 50, whose father Jimmy Kantor was his lawyer before also being charged at the Rivonia trial in 1963, was at the South African embassy where she urged other mourners: “What we have to focus on is the legacy that he’s left, which was dignity and a choice for all South Africansâ€�.

Other mourners like Samantha London, said: “It’s heartbreaking but at the same time he achieved everything he wanted. He stood by his beliefs at any cost.â€�

Meanwhile, Westminster Abbey has opened a book of condolence at St Margaret’s Church, beside the Abbey.

Officials at the Abbey said they will hold a national service of thanksgiving for Mandela’s life after the state funeral in South Africa next week.

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