Heads of state arrive ahead of Madiba memorial

2013-12-09 17:49

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

The presidents of the Comoros, Slovenia, Serbia and Chad were among the first to arrive in South Africa today to bid farewell to the late Nelson Mandela.

In what is billed as the biggest funeral for a head of state in recent times, heads of state from more than 20 countries will be attending Mandela’s memorial service tomorrow at the FNB Stadium.

Chad’s President, Idriss Déby, was the first to touch down with an entourage from the central African country at the Air Force Base Waterkloof in Pretoria this afternoon.

Officials at the base said they were expecting 17 heads of state today and tomorrow, though more are expected to fly into the country during the week to attend Mandela’s funeral in Qunu.

Déby was welcomed by international relations deputy minister Ebrahim Ebrahim in an arrival that was far more muted than the usual pomp and ceremony associated with these occasions.

The SA National Defence Force (SANDF) said US President Barack Obama and three former presidents, including Bill Clinton and George W Bush, are expected to arrive at the air base at 8am tomorrow morning.

Other heads of state, including Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Equitorial Guinea’s president Teodore Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, French president François Hollande and Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta are expected to arrive later tonight.

Some of the heads of state are expected to leave tomorrow after the official memorial service.

SANDF spokesperson Brigadier General Xolani Mabanga said they were expecting Air Force Base Waterkloof to be “quite busy” in the next couple of days.

“Many roads will remain closed around Johannesburg and some in Pretoria to ensure the proceedings go well ahead of the former president’s remains lying in state at the Union Buildings,” Mabanga said.

“We are well prepared to receive all the heads of state who will be coming to bid farewell to South Africa’s first democratic commander-in-chief of the SANDF.”

Benin President Yayi Boni is among a few heads of state who are expected to view Mandela’s remains at the Union Buildings between Wednesday and Friday.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who had confirmed his attendance, will no longer fly to South Africa after finding out that the trip was too expensive.

The presidents of Comoros, Serbia and Slovania arrived this afternoon at the OR Tambo International Airport.

Government said by midday today 91 heads of state and 10 former heads had confirmed that they would attend the memorial service tomorrow.

“Kings, queens, princes and princesses will be joined at FNB Stadium by representatives of international organisations such as the United Nations, African Union, European Union, the Commonwealth and the World Bank, and other VIPs,” said government spokesperson Phumla Williams.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.