Rain set to cloud funeral proceedings in Qunu

2013-12-11 14:06

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The OR Tambo and King Sabata Dalindyebo municipalities are pulling out all the stops to ensure that Nelson Mandela’s funeral goes smoothly – but the weather seems to have other plans.

The two municipalities will host the world in Mthatha and Qunu as heads of state and royalty flock to the Eastern Cape for Sunday’s funeral.

OR Tambo mayor Nomakhosazana Meth said preparations were going well, but that the rain was posing a serious challenge.

It has been raining in Mthatha and Qunu since Monday and the gloomy weather is expected to continue.

Meth told the media at the OR Tambo offices in Mthatha that Madiba’s body would arrive at Mthatha Airport on Saturday at 10am before passing along York Road, leaving via Nelson Mandela Drive and moving along the N2 highway towards Qunu.

His body will stay overnight in Qunu while night vigils will be held across the district.

“We are ready to host the world in our backyard. Unfortunately, we cannot get into other details because this is the competence of the military,” she said.

Meth said the Nelson Mandela Academic Hospital and Mthatha Airport had been taken over by the military.

“From today, the Mthatha Airport is under the control of the military as heads of states are expected to land in Mthatha ahead of the funeral. The airport has been declared a no-fly zone,” Meth said.

She said the municipality had ensured that there was enough water all around Mthatha and Qunu and that power was not interrupted.

“We have created new water lines from the Fort Gale Dam to feed the Nelson Mandela Academic Hospital directly. Another line straight from the Mthatha Dam into the airport will ensure there are no water shortages there. We have also put up water tanks in Qunu and its surroundings,” Meth said.

There are 19 public viewing areas (PVAs) around the province, 11 of which are in the OR Tambo district.

She said marquees would be placed in PVAs because of the weather to ensure that people were comfortable.

Meth could not say how many, or when, the dignitaries were expected in Mthatha.

Nonkoliso Ngqongwa, King Sabata Dalindyebo mayor, said buses would be used to transport dignitaries from the Walter Sisulu University’s Zamukulungisa campus, where they will park their vehicles after arriving from the airport.

Ngqongwa encouraged motorists to use the clearly marked side roads to avoid traffic congestion in the Mthatha CBD.

She said reinforcements had been called in by the traffic department to help on the day.

Meanwhile, the rainy weather this morning forced a flight due to land at the Mthatha Airport at 9.30am to be diverted to East London.

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