A man lights a candle outside the Johannesburg home of former president Nelson Mandela on Friday.
A man lights a candle outside the Johannesburg home of former president Nelson Mandela on Friday.
A shepherd herds livestock past the home of former president Nelson Mandela in Qunu on Friday.
A shepherd herds livestock past the home of former president Nelson Mandela in Qunu on Friday.

Nelson Mandela’s family are expected to meet in Houghton on Friday to discuss the official mourning period and the final arrangement for his funeral, which is expected to take place in Qunu next Saturday.

They are waiting for his daughter’s Zindzi and Zenani Mandela to arrive from London before the arrangements are finalised.

The two are returning from London where they had attended the red carpet film premiere in honour of their father.

A source close to the family said the funeral in Qunu was expected to be restricted to close family and friends and more than 70 heads of state.

“The security detail is going to be a nightmare. President Barrack 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 attend, as well as British Prime Minister David Cameron.

Mandela’s body was moved from his home in Houghton to 1 Military hospital in Pretoria.

Durban businessman, Vivian Reddy, said he spoke to a distraught Winnie Mandela 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 (Friday).”

Clayson Monyela, spokesman for the Department of International Relations and Co-operation, said they could not confirm how many international heads of state would be attending the funeral 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 details, Monyela said “nothing would be spared”.

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

He said they were working with international security – including Obama’s security detail – so “it (security) had to be at that level”.

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 when the sun was coming up.

Then, at five o’clock, the military transports came chugging down the R61, led by police vans flashing lights, and disgorging soldiers, heavily armed and in combat gear, to secure what in life was the home of his heart for South Africa’s greatest son, and what, in days to come, will be his final resting place.

Preparations for Mandela’s funeral have 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.

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

A memorial service will be held at the 90 000 seater FNB Stadium in Johannesburg 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-topped casket 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 casket will be guarded by the military 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 in the Eastern Cape.

The government has set up a website, www.mandela.gov.za to keep the public informed on the funeral arrangements. It had not been fully updated at the time of publication.

Daily News Reporters, Correspondents and Sapa