Johannesburg - President Jacob Zuma has arrived in Havana, Republic of Cuba to attend the funeral of the late former President of Cuba, Fidel Castro Ruz, the Presidency said in a statement on Wednesday.

“President Zuma is among heads of state and government who have been invited to address the special service to be held today in Plaza de la Revolucion in the Cuban capital city,” said the Presidency.

The late former president not only identified with the struggle against apartheid, but also inspired the Cuban people to join South Africans in that struggle.

The Presidency said that after South Africa gained freedom in 1994, Cuba and South Africa led by Castro and Nelson Mandela respectively, formed a strong bond of solidarity and friendship.

Zuma arrived in Cuba on Tuesday, where he attended the official mass memorial service for the late former Cuban leader in Havana. “Condolence books have been placed at the offices of the President - the Union Buildings in Pretoria and Tuynhuys in Cape Town and at the offices of the premiers throughout the country, for members of the public to express their condolences,” said the Presidency. Castro's body was cremated on November 26. His funeral will be held at the weekend.

“The casket carrying his ashes will lie in state for Cubans to pay homage to Castro at the Jose Marti Memorial in Havana on 28 and 29 November with a rally planned at the Plaza de la Revolucion for 19:00 Cuban time,” said the Presidency.

Zuma and other selected heads of state and government are scheduled to address the rally. From November 29 to December 3 the casket carrying Castro's ashes will travel along a 900km route to Santiago de Cuba.

It will trace in reverse the route of the “Freedom Caravan” of January 1959 in which Castro and his forces took power. On December 3 at 19:00 a mass gathering will take place at Plaza Antonio Maceo in Santiago de Cuba and the next day the interment of Castro's ashes will occur at Santa Ifigenia cemetery in Santiago de Cuba, where Cuban national hero Jose Marti is also buried.

African News Agency