/ 14 December 2013

Mandela funeral: Security, privacy for family is prioritised, says Peters

Preparations for former president Nelson Mandela's funeral in Qunu
Preparations for former president Nelson Mandela's funeral in Qunu

Preparations for former president Nelson Mandela's funeral in Qunu, in the Eastern Cape, were going according to plan and would provide the family with more privacy, Transport Minister Dipuo Peters said on Friday.

"We must emphasise that the stages of the state funeral over the next two days are very different from what we have seen in Johannesburg and Pretoria," said Peters.

"It is different in the sense of privacy, as this is the phase where the family, senior leadership in the country and a select group of international dignitaries will be part of proceedings."

She said security would be strict and that no vehicles of any kind would be allowed into the area of the Mandela homestead.

Mandela died at his home in Houghton, Johannesburg. His funeral will take place in Qunu on Sunday.

Peters, flanked by Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi, Communication Minister Yusuf Carrim and Eastern Cape Premier Noxolo Kiviet, was briefing the local and international media about procedures over the weekend.

Full military ceremonial honours
The government's main focus and preparations in the next few hours would be the build up to Mandela's state funeral with full military ceremonial honours.

"This is a first for the country, and shows the highest regard of our nation for the founding president of our democratic dispensation who was also commander-in-chief of the armed forces," Peters told reporters in Qunu.

"In terms of this protocol, the funeral procession will be led by the armed forces. Twenty-one-gun salutes will take place. There will be a flyover by the South African Air Force. Guards of honour will be in place."

She said brass bands would provide music at key stages and that the national anthem would be played.

The casket would be draped in the South African flag, except on those occasions where the body would be presented to the ANC, as the ruling party, she said.

The communities of Qunu, Mthatha and the surrounding areas were urged to line the R61 and N2 from Mthatha Airport, to Mthatha and then Qunu to form a human shield as the casket was driven to the homestead.

Mandela lying in state
Government spokesperson Phumla Williams said at least 100 000 people had visited the Union Buildings in Pretoria, to view Mandela lying in state on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

"Government thanks South Africans for making their way to president Mandela's casket with patience, dignity and grace to bid him farewell for the last time," said Peters.

"We also thank people for making their way to the memorial events all over the country to show their support for the Mandela family and to share their thoughts and feelings on the passing of president Mandela."

Peters said the defence and military veterans' department would provide the media with more details later on Friday about where they would be allowed to stand, whether the casket would stop in the town, and time constraints. – Sapa