Showers for Qunu memorial viewing

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Soldiers guard the home of Nelson Mandela in Qunu. PICTURE: REUTERS

Qunu - Rain disrupted arrangements in Qunu, in the Eastern Cape, on Tuesday for the screening of the memorial service for former president Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg.

The viewing was scheduled to take place on the grass in front of the village's Nelson Mandela Museum, but people who arrived for it were left confused when they found nothing was happening.

A white marquee was being set up on the grass, but there were no monitors, and no chairs.

Museum management tried to arrange a viewing for people gathered at the entrance to the museum.

A group of schoolchildren, accompanied by their teachers, arrived to attend the public viewing.

They took their place in the hall, but saw only a message on the screen: “Please wait a few minutes for your subscription to be verified... .”

Children ran around and played, while the museum tried to sort things out.

A museum official, who did not want to be named, said they were trying to arrange something after people showed up.

“We can't disappoint the people,” he said.

About 15 minutes later, another official entered and said the people would be transferred to a school nearby if they could not get their system to work.

Media set up their equipment in a corner of the hall, while the people waiting to watch started singing church songs.

About three kilometres down the road, at Mandela's home, it was quiet with almost no activity outside.

The police presence in the area remained high, with patrols along the N2, the main road between Mthatha and Qunu. It has been closed off for several kilometres both sides of Qunu.

Police, armoured cars and an ambulance were parked on the grass in front of the Mandela house.

A few people stopped there on their way to the viewing at the Nelson Mandela museum, a few kilometres away.

One woman said they had braved the rain to pay their last respects.

“We did it for Tata Madiba,” she said.

Preparations continued on Tuesday for Mandela's state funeral at Qunu on Sunday.

Workers were using a big yellow crane to erect the steel framework for a rectangular stage. Nearby, a large white tent had been put up.

Since President Jacob Zuma announced Mandela's death on Thursday night, mourners have left flowers along the wall at the end of Mandela's property. - Sapa

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