Zuma deploys army at Mandela events

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REUTERS

SANDF soldiers march to formation before welcoming the funeral cortege carrying the coffin of Nelson Mandela to the Union Buildings. Photo: Thomas Mukoya

Cape Town - President Jacob Zuma gave the go-ahead for the deployment of close to 12 000 troops in state events after the death of Nelson Mandela, the presidency said on Friday.

“[He] informed Parliament [on Thursday] that he had authorised the employment of 11 894 members of the SA National Defence Force for service,” spokesman Mac Maharaj said.

A number of the soldiers would, along with police, be used to maintain law and order during the former president's state funeral in Qunu in the Eastern Cape on Sunday.

Maharaj said exact numbers of troops deployed to Qunu would not be released.

The total number approved for deployment was for all soldiers who had been working since December 6 and would continue to do so until December 20.

After Mandela's death at his Houghton home in Johannesburg on December 5, at the age of 95, Zuma declared a 10-day mourning period.

On Tuesday, a memorial service was held at FNB Stadium in Soweto, attended by about 100 former and current heads of state.

Friday marks the third and final day in which Mandela's body will lie in state at the Union Buildings in Pretoria, a process in which the SANDF has played a major role.

Sunday's official funeral, in the rural area in which Mandela spent most of his childhood, is expected to be attended by about 5000 mourners.

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