Mandela: South Africans get ready for “funeral of the century”

Johannesburg, South Africa (PANA) – As South Africa continues to absorb the shock of the death of world statesman Nelson Mandela, plans are well underway for what one government official has termed “the funeral of the century”.

A PANA Correspondent reports that large crowds remain outside Mandela’s Johannesburg home, despite the fact that his body was immediately transferred to a military airport in Pretoria from where the coffin will be transferred to the Eastern Cape.

Memorial events begin later on Saturday with thousands expected at a wreath-laying event in a Johannesburg park.

President Jacob Zuma said a national ceremony in Mandela's memory would be held on Tuesday in Soweto.

His body will then lie in state in Pretoria for three days before he receives a state burial next Sunday in his birthplace of Qunu in the Eastern Cape.

Many world leaders, including US President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, will attend the funeral.

Former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton have also confirmed their attendance.  

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff have also indicated they will attend.

Although Mandela’s death has taken nobody by surprise – because he was critically ill for months – it remains to be seen whether the authorities will cope with the logistical nightmare of having thousands of foreigners arriving at the same time.

The South African government and foreign embassies and high commissions have already block booked hotel rooms to deal with the demand.

South African Airways (SAA) has confirmed that it will provide air transport service to ferry mourners who will attend the funeral. The national airline said it had consulted with the State and will put a special air transport service in place in order to facilitate the movement of mourners to the Eastern Cape.

"This special air transport service will cater for the mourners who have been invited to attend the funeral and it will also be available on the return leg of their travel," SAA spokesperson Tlali Tlali said in a statement.

The airline also said that the special flights will neither replace nor disrupt its existing daily operations to the Eastern Cape.
-0- PANA CU/VAO 7Dec2013

07 december 2013 07:19:12

xhtml CSS