Qunu cops stop media from going to rented homes

2013-12-11 18:20
(Picture: AFP)

(Picture: AFP)

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Qunu - Police stopped journalists from going to the houses they are renting in Qunu on Wednesday.

Some media houses had paid locals to accommodate their journalists.

A call was made to residents to open their homes to visitors.

Earlier the Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism Agency urged home owners in the province to charge reasonable rates for accommodation and not to inflate prices.

CEO Luxolo Rubeshe said: "Although we cannot dictate the pricing, we encourage the citizens of the Eastern Cape to set their prices within reason."

The call comes ahead of former president Nelson Mandela's funeral in Qunu on Sunday, which has brought a surge of visitors to the region.

Rubeshe said locals should treat visitors with dignity and respect to make sure they had a good experience.

"The Eastern Cape is famous for ubuntu of its people. Now is the time to show this to the rest of the world."

He said complaints had been received about locals charging exorbitant prices for the use of their homes.

In one instance, a person was charging more than R8 000 per room per night.

A bed and breakfast that will open its doors in Qunu on Thursday is charging R1 500 a night for a room with a single bed.

A room with two beds will set visitors back R2 000 a night. The establishment, which has six rooms, is within walking distance of former president Nelson Mandela's homestead.

The manager, who declined to give her name, would not reveal whether the prices would change after Mandela's funeral on Sunday.

Three of the rooms had been booked from Friday.

Accommodation in Mthatha is said to be 96% full, forcing journalists to rent houses in villages.

Executive director of Destination Tourism in the province, Eddie Marafane, encouraged locals to open their homes and called on them to register with the agency.

Ready for the influx

Apart from the increase in the price of accommodation, OR Tambo district mayor, Nomakhosazana Meth, said the municipality was ready for the influx of people attending Mandela’ funeral.

She said: "There are going to be some changes from our daily operations, in particular as it relates to the Nelson Mandela Hospital [in Mthatha, Eastern Cape]," she said.

The military had taken over the hospital on Wednesday morning, and patients had been transferred to nearby hospitals. Only people who were seriously ill and those in intensive care remained at the hospital.

From Thursday, the Mthatha airport would be declared a no-fly-zone.

"There are hangars to receive dignitaries and heads of state, but the military will be in control.

Meth said there would be more road closures to avoid congestion in Qunu and Mthatha.

She said these would be signposted, and urged people to use the alternative routes.

Water tankers have also been delivered to Qunu, and the supply to hospitals in the area had been reinforced.

Although there were about 40 000 people in Qunu and surrounding areas, nearly 70 000 people were expected in the municipality at the weekend.

She said preparations had been in place even before Mandela died at his home in Houghton, Johannesburg, on Thursday 6 December at the age of 95.

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.

- Share your memories of Nelson Mandela with us.

Read more on:    east london  |  media

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