Qunu gearing up for funeral

2013-12-09 15:02
A large structure which will be used for commemorative ceremonies is built on the land of late former president Nelson Mandela's home in Qunu. (Carl De Souza, AFP)

A large structure which will be used for commemorative ceremonies is built on the land of late former president Nelson Mandela's home in Qunu. (Carl De Souza, AFP)

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Qunu - There were few casual visitors outside former president Nelson Mandela's Eastern Cape home in Qunu on Monday, but deliveries and preparations ahead of his funeral were well underway.

A couple, who did not want to be named, drove past the gate and asked the media what was happening in the area.

"We are on our way on holiday and saw the steel structure from the N2, and saw all the cars and decided to stop," the man said.

"Is Mandela's house nearby?"

They left soon after a journalist pointed out the house to them.

A large yellow crane was lifting steel rods and erecting a structure inside the property. Nearby, a large white marquee had been erected.

The structure, a few metres high and wide, could be seen from the N2, which is the main road between Qunu and Mthatha.

Police have asked journalists to stay on the other side of the N2, which passes the home.

‘Strict orders’

Several heavy goods trucks and other service providers entered the gravel road, which has been blocked off to ordinary traffic.

Shortly after 11:30, a truck carrying air conditioning units arrived.

Cement trucks arrived all morning.

The number of armoured military vehicles increased through the morning until there were nine parked on the grass in front of the house.

Others already parked around the perimeter remained in place.

Military officers chatted in groups close to the vehicles.

A funeral services vehicle entered the main gate with military health service vehicles.

Events infrastructure companies also entered using the side road.

Children played in a tunnel running under the N2.

Three dogs occasionally ran to the gate before returning down the side road where the growing media contingent parked.

The media has been prevented from entering the Nelson Mandela Museum in Qunu without the necessary accreditation. Security guards at the gate turned away local and international media, saying they had "strict orders" to do so.

Accreditation would officially open on Tuesday morning.

A tent had been erected on the grass near the museum and a truck with communications facilities entered the yard. The Qunu media centre would be set up there.

Since Mandela's death in Johannesburg on Thursday night, mourners have left flowers at the base of the property's wall.

Police on horseback are patrolling Qunu.

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:    nelson ­mandela

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