Zuma to address crowd at Mandela send-off

2013-12-14 07:21
President Jacob Zuma. (SABC, AFP)

President Jacob Zuma. (SABC, AFP)

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Johannesburg - The hearse carrying the body of former president Nelson Mandela arrived at the Waterkloof Air Force Base in Pretoria early on Saturday morning.

Earlier, a sombre-looking Winnie Madikizela-Mandela - Mandela's ex-wife - accompanied by several relatives, arrived at the airbase from where Mandela's body will be transported to the Eastern Cape ahead of his state funeral in Qunu on Sunday.

ANC officials and members, many dressed in party colours, sang and danced in a hangar, where a stage had been set up.

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, ANC stalwart Frene Ginwala, and former Ekurhuleni metro police chief Robert McBride were among those present at the airbase, as were US civil rights activist Jesse Jackson and TV personality Dali Tambo.

According to the programme for the send-off ceremony, President Jacob Zuma will address the crowd and the Mandela family will give a vote of thanks.

Representatives of the Congress of SATrade Unions, the SA Communist Party, and the SA National Civic Organisation will also speak.

Mandela's favourite poem "Invictus" was printed on the back of the programme.

The stage for the ceremony was lined with flowers and parachute material was draped across the ceiling.

Government said on Friday the SA National Defence Force was expected to hand over Mandela's body to the ANC at 07:00.

The SANDF would again take over at 09:00 for the send-off ceremony and departure from the base.

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

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