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South Tyneside Council opens Mandela book of condolence

TRIBUTE ... Mayor Coun Ernest Gibson.

TRIBUTE ... Mayor Coun Ernest Gibson.

SOUTH Tyneside Council has opened a book of condolence for the people of the borough to pay their respects to Nelson Mandela.

The former South African president died aged 95 last Thursday.

The book of condolence is now available for signing by visitors to the old reception area of South Shields Town Hall, between 9am and 4.30pm.

The Mayor and Mayoress of South Tyneside, Coun Ernest Gibson and Patricia Ridley, were among the first people to sign the book.

Coun Gibson said: “Nelson Mandela was a towering figure on the world stage.

“His courage in leading the fight against the injustice of apartheid and his dignity and forgiveness after his release from prison made him a revered figure, and an inspiration for millions of people across the world.

“The book of condolence gives the community of South Tyneside an opportunity to pay their respects to one of the greatest leaders in the modern era, and to honour the compassion and courage he showed throughout his life.”

The book of condolence will be available for signing until 4.30pm on Tuesday, December 17.

It will then be sent to the South African High Commission in London, to join other national tributes.

The book was made available as thousands of ordinary South Africans queued for a second day to pay their respects to Mr Mandela.

The body of the anti-apartheid leader is lying in state for three days at the Union Buildings in Pretoria, where Mr Mandela was sworn in as South Africa’s first black president in 1994.

Mr Mandela will be buried at his ancestral home in Qunu on Sunday.

Correspondents said Mr Mandela’s body could be seen through a glass screen, dressed in one of his trademark patterned shirts.

At each end of the casket stood two navy officers clad in white uniforms, with their swords pointing down.

World leaders joined tens of thousands of South Africans at a huge memorial service on Tuesday in Johannesburg as part of the commemorations leading up to the funeral.

A national day of reconciliation will take place on December 16 when a statue of Mr Mandela will be unveiled at the Union Buildings.

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