Co-operation urged for Mandela burial

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A South African police officer patrols the area around the tent dome funeral venue of former president Nelson Mandela in Qunu. Picture: PEDRO UGARTE

Mthatha -

Transport Minister Dipuo Peters has appealed to guests using private jets to attend Nelson Mandela's funeral in Qunu in the Eastern Cape on Sunday to land in East London.

“We want to minimise congestion and delays. Those driving, make sure you get to the park-and-rides on time and use the shuttles,” she said.

The Mthatha airport, the closest to Qunu, has been handed over to the military, who would decide which planes could land there.

She appealed to guests to respect the rules and procedures put in place by the SA National Defence Force.

“We ask for co-operation and respect. If you're told you can't be here, let's co-operate.”

She appealed to locals to also be patient on the roads while dignitaries were being transported to Qunu, Madiba's final resting place.

“There will be times where you will be stopped for long periods, you will be stopped and held for a long time. Be patient and allow marshalls to direct you where to go,” she said.

The minister urged female guests to wear comfortable shoes on the day of the funeral.

She said the terrain was rocky and could cause damage to high-heeled shoes.

Earlier in the day, the airport was a hive of activity ahead of the arrival of Mandela's body.

Police kept watch at all major road intersections near the airport, while others, including military police officers on motorcycles, were stationed in and around the facility.

Soldiers armed with automatic rifles were running up and down escorting those arriving at the airport to their cars.

Local residents in yellow African National Congress T-shirts sang outside the main gate.

A military tent could be seen on the airport grounds.

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.

Mandela's body is expected to be flown to the Eastern Cape on Saturday.

He will be buried on Sunday in Qunu, where he spent much of his childhood.

Mandela's daughter Makaziwe and family friend, United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa, were at the airport to watch the rehearsals for the body's arrival. - Sapa

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