Joburg hotels make room for Mandela VIPs

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Johannesburg - Luxury hotels in Johannesburg’s Sandton neighbourhood have asked guests to vacate their rooms for foreign dignitaries attending Nelson Mandela’s funeral and memorial service.

The Radisson Blu hotel, located opposite the Gautrain station in the city’s commercial centre, wrote to “valued clients” to tell them that their booking will be cancelled, according to a letter seen by Bloomberg News.

“We will need to release your booking with us,” the hotelier said in a letter to customers.

“There is no accommodation available in the area due to all the foreign dignitaries that will occupy the various properties and security in the area will not allow for corporate travel.”

Current and former presidents of the US, France and Brazil will fly to South Africa to pay tribute to Mandela, the country’s first black president who died at his home in Johannesburg on December 5.

South Africa will expand tomorrow’s memorial service to cater for at least 200,000 people, with three additional sports facilities screening the service taking place at the city’s FNB Stadium.

The UK’s Prince Charles will attend Mandela’s funeral, while 13 heads of African countries, including Nigeria’s Goodluck Jonathan, are making the journey.

About 9,000 mourners are expected to attend Mandela’s December 15 funeral in Qunu, about 900 kilometres (560 miles) southwest of Johannesburg, according to the government. - Bloomberg News

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