Madiba funeral plans on track - SANDF

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A huge metal structure was erected for Nelson Mandelas funeral near his home in Qunu.

Johannesburg - Preparations for the state funeral of former president Nelson Mandela are proceeding well, the SA National Defence Force said on Friday.

“Everything is on track in terms of arrangements for the funeral,” spokesman Lt-Gen Xolani Mabangu said.

Mandela died at his home in Houghton, Johannesburg, on Thursday last week at the age of 95. He will be buried in Qunu in the Eastern Cape, where he spent much of his childhood, on Sunday.

Friday is the third and final day in which Mandela's body will lie in state at the Union Buildings in Pretoria.

The body will be returned to 1 Military Hospital overnight and flown to the Eastern Cape on Saturday.

“Tomorrow (Saturday) at the Waterkloof Military Airbase... the body will be formally and officially handed over to the ANC (for them) to conduct their ceremony in honour of him,” said Mabangu.

He said chief mourners among the Madiba clan and Mandela family, as well as senior government officials, would accompany the body.

The New Age reported that all AbaThembu traditions would be observed once the body arrived at the Mthatha Airport on Saturday morning.

“The king (Buyelekhyua 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 paper.

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

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

The New Age reported the body would be handed over to 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.

After the state funeral had concluded, the abaThembu would receive the body to bury it according to royal protocol.

“Our king will salute Madiba three times saying: “Aah! Dalibhyunga (Mandela's salutation name).”

Mandela would then be buried.

Part of the customary burial process is to slaughter an ox and sheep. Mandela is from the royal family of the abaThembu.

About 5000 people are expected to attend the state funeral, among them Britain's Prince Charles.

Military helicopters and police on horseback have been patrolling the area.

Construction and roadworks were underway throughout the week. - Sapa

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