No place for residents at Qunu funeral

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People work on the property of former president Nelson Mandela, as construction continues at the arena where his funeral will be held, in Qunu. Picture: Rogan Ward

Eastern Cape -

Ordinary Qunu residents are not going to be allowed to attend Nelson Mandela’s funeral.

When his body arrives in the Eastern Cape village on Saturday morning, there will be a human chain of 10 000 people from the R61 to his home, said King Sabata Dalindyebo municipality’s executive mayor Nonkoliso Ngqongwa.

According to the OR Tambo district mayor Makhosazana Meth, only those from the community who have been accredited to attend the funeral service in the Qunu homestead on Sunday will be allowed in. The service is not going to be open to everyone.

She said the community would watch the service at the following viewing areas: Rotary Stadium, the open space below Mandela Museum, Mthatha Stadium, Khaya Majola Stadium, Empa village, Mvezo village and Nkalane village.

A memorial service takes place on Thursday at Walter Sisulu University stadium. Buses will transport the community, but those from the surrounding areas should walk as this would resemble the long walk to freedom, said Meth.

She said there would be programmes for children because Tata loved them. There would also be gifts for children to show that even though Tata is gone, his spirit lives on.

About 70 international heads of state are expected to land at Mthatha Airport for the funeral.

The airport will be closed to commercial flights from Wednesday and allow only international heads of state to land.

The army and SAPS have been camping at the airport since Saturday to ensure high-level security for international visitors.

SANDF spokesman Xolani Mabanga said access to the airport and Qunu would start being controlled from Wednesday.

Meanwhile, work is steadily continuing at the state-of-the-art stage that has been erected to accommodate family members and dignitaries for the funeral.

Project co-ordinator Petros Nelani said the auditorium, made of steel with the use of a crane, would accommodate 4 000 people. - Additional reporting by Solly Maphumulo and Vuyo Mkize

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