By Mary Taruvinga
THE body of the late former President Robert Mugabe finally arrived from Singapore this Wednesday afternoon with the plane which ferried the once powerful leader touching down at the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport at exactly 15:30 hrs.
It was received with cheers from thousands of mourners who had started trickling in from around 11am.
Accompanying the body was Mugabe’s widow, Grace and the former First Couple’s three children and son-in-law Simbarashe Chikore as well as a few relatives.
The Mugabe family came aboard the charter flight A6-DAS and almost all were dressed in mourning black attires.
The airport tarmac was a brief cacophony of cheering voices but swiftly switched to a low key as the family walked out of the plane.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa arrived at exactly 14:50pm accompanied by tight security to welcome the body of his predecessor whom he forcibly removed from power in November 2017.
It was difficult to read the facial expression on Grace, whose face was covered with a black veil and also on Mnangagwa and wife, Auxillia since the media was restricted to some 30 metres from a stage which was mounted on the tarmac for the solemn occasion.
Some notable Zimbabwean figures who were at the airport were Vice President Kembo Mohadi, who led the delegation to collect his former boss’s body from Singapore, Defence Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri and her predecessor Sydney Sekeramayi.
Mnangagwa stood close to Grace as the once bitter enemies witnessed Mugabe’s brown casket being brought down from the cargo section of the jet by some military officers.
A military band played some instrumental Chimurenga music.
Speaking soon after the arrival of his former boss’s body, Mnangagwa called on Zimbabweans to attend Mugabe’s burial in their numbers on Sunday.
He also begged locals to remain peaceful during the funeral wake of their former leader.
Mnangagwa said Mugabe’s body will proceed to the army’s One Commando Barracks for military prayers before it is taken to Mugabe’s blue roof mansion in Harare’s upmarket Borrowdale suburb same day.
“More details with regards to proceedings will be announced thereafter,” Mnangagwa said.
Below are some of the images of President Mnangagwa and the coffin captured at the airport.