International guests start arriving for Mandela funeral

2013-12-08 16:08
(Nielen de Klerk, News24)

(Nielen de Klerk, News24)

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Global leaders pay tribute to Mandela

2013-12-08 14:28

The Elders, a group of independent leaders brought together by Nelson Mandela, pay tribute to Madiba. Watch.WATCH

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Johannesburg - International heads of state and royalty have begun arriving in South Africa, Minister in the Presidency Collins Chabane said on Sunday.

"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."

Chabane said South Africa appreciated the willingness shown by people mourning, reflecting and celebrating Mandela's life and legacy.

"To date, 13 African states have confirmed attendance, in addition to 15 from outside the continent," he said.

International and regional organisations, such as the UN, European Commission, and African Union had also confirmed attendance.

Chabane said 11 eminent persons would also be in South Africa during this period.

US President Barack Obama would be accompanied by three of that country's former presidents: Jimmy Carter, George W Bush, Bill Clinton and their spouses, and 26 congressmen.

British PM David Cameron will attend the memorial service on Tuesday and Prince Charles will represent the Queen at the funeral itself.

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.

Official memorial

The official memorial service at FNB Stadium, Johannesburg, 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". Mandela's body would not be at the service.

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, and that people take advantage of the fact that all key events are being broadcast live," said Chabane.

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 overflow venues to allow mourners to follow proceedings at FNB Stadium.

"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," he said.

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

- Share your memories of Nelson Mandela with us.

- 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:    collins chabane  |  barack obama
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