Mandela funeral: Govt dismisses security fears

Govt says it is gearing up to meet all the logistical challenges for Mandela's funeral.

Tributes continue to pour in for former president Nelson Mandela after his death on 5 December. Picture: Govan Whittles/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - As global leaders travel to South Africa to attend events marking Nelson Mandela's death, government says it's gearing up to meet the logistical challenges and has dismissed security concerns.

Mandela died peacefully at his Houghton home at the age of 95 on Thursday night.

There were overnight reports that US President Barack Obama has decided to attend Tuesday's memorial service at FNB Stadium while French President Fran├žois Hollande has also confirmed he will be in South Africa.

Dignitaries such as United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and former US President Bill Clinton are also expected to be on the list.

Government is likely to give a more detailed indication today of how many heads of state and VIP guests it will host next week.

Yesterday, Minister in the Presidency Collins Chabane dealt with some of the logistics surrounding the events planned in the coming days.

Government said visiting heads of state can choose which events they'll attend.

Chabane said South Africa has hosted major global events before and said government isn't particularly concerned about threats to security.

"We must always be concerned about the possibility of terror, but for us this doesn't present a specific challenge."

He said the funeral will be a delicate balance of diplomatic protocols and cultural practices.

"We are working with the Mandela family on a continuous basis to ensure there is concurrency in everything we do with the state, the ANC and the Mandela family."

Chabane also downplayed concerns about the memorial service being held on 10 December at FNB Stadium, saying once the venue is full people will be turned away and redirected to other venues.

Mandela's body will lie in state at the Union Buildings from Wednesday 11 December to Friday 13 December.

There, South Africans and selected international visitors and guests will be able to view his remains.

During this time, Mandela's remains will be transported daily between 1 Military Hospital, Thaba Tshwane and the Union Buildings.

Chabane urged South Africans to line the streets and form a guard of honour as Mandela's body is transported across Pretoria next week.

He said details of this route and times will be provided in due course.

President Jacob Zuma has declared today a day of prayer and reflection ahead of the state funeral in Qunu in the Eastern Cape on 15 December.

Click here for a basic guide on the events leading up to and including Mandela's state funeral.


Chabane said the National Joint Operational Centre (NATJOC) of South Africa's security forces will manage the events.

The South African Police Service, the South African National Defence Force (SANDF), metro police, intelligence agencies and representatives of various departments and entities will cooperate in the management of proceedings.

Many SANDF members have been called back from leave with immediate effect to support the operations.

The order excludes members on special leave based on legal grounds.