Qunu - A number of Cabinet ministers arrived at a purple-themed arena where the state funeral of former president Nelson Mandela is set to take place in Qunu in the Eastern Cape on Sunday.
Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa, Transport Minister Dipuo Peters, Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson, and Home Affairs Minister Naledi Pandor were among the earliest arrivals at the dome-shaped venue which had been specially constructed for the event.
Smartly-dressed guests took their seats on purple chairs in front of a stage lined with two rows of candles and a portrait of Mandela.
Black seats have been designated for international delegates and special guests.
Western Cape premier Helen Zille said she had not been to Qunu before. “It looks very beautiful,” she said.
Both Zille, and Democratic Alliance parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko, said it was an honour to be at the funeral.
“It's an amazing moment. It's a privilege to be here alongside his family,” said Mazibuko.
Guests, including Zimbabwean Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai, SA Reserve Bank governor Gill Marcus, and US Ambassador Patrick Gaspard made their way into the venue as gospel music played softly in the background.
Minister in the Presidency Collins Chabane - flanked by various army officials - greeted guests at the door.
About 5 000 people are expected to attend the funeral in Mandela's home village.
People will be able to watch the funeral at home on television or on big screens at venues across the country.
After the state funeral concludes at around 10am on Sunday, the AbaThembu will receive the body to bury it according to royal protocol.
Mandela will be buried next to his relatives at the family grave site in a private and more intimate ceremony. - Sapa