Details of Mandela memorial service announced

2013-12-08 21:46

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Johannesburg - The government has put strict security measures in place ahead of the arrival of international visitors and royalty for former president Nelson Mandela's funeral.

Some guests had already started arriving on Sunday, Minister in the Presidency Collins Chabane said.

"The fact that international leaders are making their way to South Africa at such short notice reflects the special place President Nelson Mandela holds in the hearts of people around the globe," he said in Johannesburg.

"We are touched by the fact that many countries have declared periods of mourning, ordered that flags be flown at half-mast and draped or lit landmarks in the colours of the South African flag. We truly appreciate these gestures."

Mandela died at his home in Houghton, Johannesburg, on Thursday night at the age of 95.

A total of 53 heads of state had confirmed their attendance at Mandela's memorial service at FNB Stadium on Tuesday.

US President Barack Obama would be accompanied by three of his predecessors: Jimmy Carter, George W Bush, Bill Clinton, their spouses, and 26 congressmen.

Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff would be accompanied by four former heads of state.

"We expect more confirmations, and we wish to reiterate that our international guests are most welcome as they join us at this difficult time," said Chabane.

The official memorial service at FNB Stadium would take place at 11:00 on Tuesday, with gates to open at 06:00.

President Jacob Zuma would address the service, and tributes would be given by other heads of state and "eminent persons".

No cars allowed

Mandela's body would not be at the service and no cars would be allowed near the stadium.

"Members of the public who want to attend the national memorial service at FNB... must plan their trips carefully, leave early and use public transport," he said.

"Our advice is that people outside Gauteng come together in their own provinces to ensure that this is a truly nationwide event."

Provincial and local authorities had been asked to arrange transport for mourners from various parts of the country to FNB Stadium and the overflow venues: the Ellis Park, Orlando and Dobsonville stadiums.

Big screens would be installed at the other venues, similar to the fan parks set up during the Fifa World Cup in 2010.

Around 90 big screens would be set up in all provinces. This number was expected to rise. "While these venues offer extensive seating, people must accept that at some stage this capacity will be filled and police and other authorities will turn people away," said Chabane.

Public transport

He called on people to co-operate and be patient if they were turned away. Chabane said the government was doing all it could to allow as many people as possible to be part of the various events. Mourners were asked to travel to FNB Stadium by Metrorail and the Gautrain.

"People will also be able to walk from the surrounding areas to the stadium, and a special Rea Vaya service will also be in operation," he said.

"The City of Joburg has a number of park-and-ride sites for FNB Stadium, Ellis Park and Orlando Stadium."

On the Day of Reconciliation, South Africa will observe the 100th anniversary of the Union Buildings as the seat of government, and a statue of Mandela will be unveiled. On Wednesday 11 December, the Mandela family and VIPs will view the body from 10:00.

The public will file past the body from midday to 17:30.

On Thursday and Friday 12 December and 13 December, the public will be able to file past the body from 08:00 to 17:30.

Two sites in Pretoria will be used as points from which mourners will be shuttled to the Union Buildings and back.

No other access would be possible, said Chabane.

"Mourners are also advised that cellphones will need to be off and out of sight as mourners file past the body."

The government reiterates its appeal for members of the public to line the memorial route each morning to form a public guard of honour.

Chabane said more information would be released in the coming day about the burial in Qunu, in the Eastern Cape.

- Send us your memories and photos of Nelson Mandela.

- Friends, colleagues, comrades and family of Nelson Mandela are invited to share their memories and tributes, and to light a candle for him, on his profile at Remembered.co.za.

- SAPA

Read more on:    nelson mandela  |  collins chabane  |  johannesburg
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