Malawi President Joyce Banda and the First Gentleman, retired Chief Justice Richard Banda, on Saturday led Malawians in body viewing ceremony of the late President Bingu wa Mutharika in a peaceful and sombre mood punctuated by wailing from relatives.
This was after the arrival at the New State House of the cortege from Kamuzu International Airport with Mutharika’s body on a gun carriage.
The 78-year-old leader’s body had been flown to South Africa for embalming after he suffered the fatal heart attack on April 5.
Sobs from the bereaved family, including former first lady Callitsa Mutharika , were conspicuous as President Banda paid her last respects.
Former official hostess Mama Cecilia Kadzamira was one of the prominent figures who came to the palace to bid farewell to Mutharika.
After the first round of viewing, the Roman Catholic Church took over to conduct mass which was conducted by Archbishop Remi Ste-Marie while Bishop Zuza blessed the body at the beginning of the mass.
Some of the people who served in Mutharika’s government such as Patricia Kaliati broke into tears as they viewed his body.
The general public will be able to pay respects to his remains on Monday at the parliament building before the body is taken to the northern city of Mzuzu and the commercial hub of Blantyre.
He will be buried on April 23 at a family mausoleum on his personal farm 20km from Blantyre.