Security tightens at Qunu
Johannesburg - Security has become so tight at Nelson Mandela’s Qunu homestead ahead of the funeral that each person is screened to ensure they are from the community.
Late on Wednesday the media were barred from entering the village. At the gravesite, a heap of sand was visible as workers continued digging the grave.
Even the heavy downpour did not deter the men, who carried on working in yellow raincoats until nightfall.
Around 2pm on Wednesday, security was beefed up and access to the homestead became more controlled.
The number of police patrolling the Mandela household tripled, and they went to each vehicle parked in the vicinity and ordered journalists to move away from the house.
Even locals, who have been camping outside the homestead since Monday, hoping to get jobs from companies busy doing maintenance at the house, were checked.
The police cleared the area that had been used by the media as a camping site.
A Nyala armoured police vehicle blocked the road to the homestead, and police started screening every vehicle.
The GCIS released a statement urging the media to co-operate with the security officers at the Qunu homestead.
“It has come to our attention that some members of the media have violated the protocols and arrangements that are in place in Qunu,” said GCIS.
“Government appeals to members of the media to respect former president Nelson Mandela’s final resting place in Qunu, Eastern Cape.
“The final resting place of the former president is culturally significant to the ama-Thembu clan. We ask the media to please be sensitive to this and respect this site.”
Meanwhile, the scramble to finish preparations continued.
Marquee Tent Events arrived on Wednesday morning to erect two giant marquees that can each accommodate more than 2 000 people.
Mthatha Airport will be under military control and will be a no-fly zone.
Mthatha Airport manager Anderson Maduneni said the security had become very tight as they prepared to receive heads of the states and VIPs.
An employee of Marquee Tent Events, who identified himself only as Ricardo, said they had to finish the marquees before the end of on Wednesday. Ricardo said they would hire locals camping outside the homestead to help.
Careful Carriers, a Joburg-based company, delivered more than 60 flush toilets to the Mandela homestead on Wednesday.