ANC to conduct Madiba send-off ceremony

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People celebrate as the funeral cortege of South African former president Nelson Mandela drives to the Union Buildings for the lying in state on December 12, 2013 in Pretoria.. Picture: MARCO LONGARI

Johannesburg -

The ANC will conduct an official send-off ceremony for former president Nelson Mandela at the Waterkloof Air Force Base on Saturday morning, before his body is flown down to the Eastern Cape.

It said more than 2 000 people were expected to attend, including African National Congress leadership, members of the tripartite alliance, guests and dignitaries, and members of the public.

“President Jacob Zuma and leaders of the alliance will deliver tribute speeches on the life and legacy of Madiba,” the ANC said in a statement on Friday.

“Members of the Mandela family will also be present at the ceremony, before departing with Madiba's mortal remains to Qunu.”

It was reported that all AbaThembu traditions would be observed once the body arrived at the Mthatha Airport later on Saturday morning.

“The king (Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo) will tell Madiba that he is there to receive him. The king will salute Madiba and the procession will go to Mthatha city centre,” chief Mfundo Bhovulengwe Mtirara told The New Age newspaper.

“We will then move the body to iNdlu eNkulu (the great house) at Qunu, and then hand the body to reverends.”

The great house is usually the first rondavel built at a homestead.

The newspaper reported that the body would be handed over to the leaders of the Methodist church in the afternoon.

A public vigil would be held on Saturday night at the Walter Sisulu University's Nelson Mandela Drive campus.

Mandela died at his home in Houghton, Johannesburg, last Thursday, at the age of 95.

A memorial service was held for him at FNB stadium in Johannesburg on Tuesday, and his body lay in state at the Union Buildings in Pretoria from Wednesday to Friday. - Sapa

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