Qunu gearing up

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INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS

Soldiers move towards Nelson Mandelas home in Qunu in the Eastern Cape, at sunrise on Friday. Picture: Adrian de Kock

Staff Reporters, Correspondents and Sapa

Nelson Mandela’s family are expected to meet in Houghton, Joburg, on Friday to discuss the next 10 days of mourning and the final arrangements for his funeral, which is expected to take place in Qunu, in Eastern Cape, next Saturday.

They are waiting for his daughters Zindzi and Zenani Mandela to arrive from London, before the arrangements are finalised.

The two are returning from the British capital, where they had attended the red-carpet premiere of Long Walk To Freedom, the movie based on Mandela’s autobiography.

A source close to the family said the funeral in Qunu was expected to be restricted to close family and friends – and more than 80 heads of state.

“The security detail is going to be a nightmare.

“US President Barack Obama will be attending. Access to the funeral will be almost impossible. In fact, I am sure Qunu will be locked down for several kilometres.”

The source said a call was being made for each province to hold its own memorial.

“It is going to be difficult for people to travel to Johannesburg for the memorial service.

“This move is to ensure no one is left out. Everyone can pay tribute to Madiba in their own towns or provinces.”

Mandela’s state funeral is expected to be attended by scores of heads of state, royalty and thousands of dignitaries.

Obama has confirmed that he will attend. Former US presidents Bill Clinton and George W Bush are also expected to be there, as well as British Prime Minister David Cameron.

Clayson Monyela, spokesman for the Department of International Relations and Co-operation, said he could not confirm how many heads of state would attend, but they were expecting “most countries to attend”.

“We’ve had a lot of confirmation already but it’s too early to talk numbers. Representatives from most countries, at the highest level, will be here.”

With regard to security, Monyela said “nothing will be spared”.

“This will be the biggest funeral, possibly, that the world has seen and security will be at the appropriate level.”

Monyela said they were working with international security services – including Obama’s – because security “had to be at that level”.

Mandela’s body had been moved from his home in Houghton to 1 Military Hospital in Pretoria, SABC radio news reported on Friday.

According to CNN, Mandela’s body will be embalmed at the hospital over the next three days.

At Qunu on Friday morning, a rolling six-person toyi-toyi and the blue light of a police van at the gates were the only signs of Madiba’s death when the sun was coming up.

Then, at 5am, military vehicles came chugging down the R61, led by police vans with flashing lights.

They disgorged soldiers, heavily armed and in combat gear, to secure the home of South Africa’s greatest son, and what, in days to come, will become his final resting place.

Mandela’s funeral has been in the planning for several months, after he fell gravely ill with a lung infection earlier this year.

The first act of mourning would entail flags flying at half mast throughout the country.

 

A memorial service will be held at the 90 000-seater FNB Stadium in Joburg sometime next week.

Memorial services are also expected to be held in every city in South Africa.

After being embalmed, Mandela’s body will be placed in a coffin with a glass-top under a dome near the Union Buildings in Pretoria, where thousands of mourners are expected to pay their last respects.

He will lie in state for several days.

The coffin will be guarded by troops and will be near the spot where Mandela was sworn in as South Africa’s first democratically elected president.

His body will then be flown to his home in Qunu.

The government has set up the website, www.mandela.gov.za to keep the public informed of the funeral arrangements.

The website had not been fully updated at the time of publication.

Durban businessman Vivian Reddy said he had spoken to a distraught Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, Madiba’s ex-wife, on Friday morning.

“She was very emotional and her phone was ringing off the hook.

“She shared a few warm sentiments with me about her life with Madiba.

“I hope to see her later today.”

Cape Argus


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