70 heads of state to arrive in SA

The number of high-profile guests attending tomorrow's memorial service at FNB Stadium is unprecedented.

An unprecedented number of heads of state have confirmed attendance at tomorrow's memorial service at FNB Stadium in honour of former president Nelson Mandela. Picture: Sapa.

JOHANNESBURG - Government officials are gearing up for a week that will see 70 heads of state and 10 former heads of state arriving in South Africa to pay their respects to former president Nelson Mandela.

Department of International Relations and Cooperation spokesperson Clayson Monyela says world leaders will travel with their own security detail but will have to work closely with local authorities.

"The whole world is literally coming to South Africa."

There are already road closures in place and planes carrying presidents have already begun to land.

The world's major organisations such as the United Nations, the African Union, the European Union and the World Bank will also be represented.


Serious logistical plans have been put in place for tomorrow's memorial at the FNB Stadium.

The Rea Vaya Bus service, park-and-rides and special train services are being used instead.

There are also three overflow stadiums; Ellis Park, Orlando and Dobsonville, where people can attend and watch proceedings on a big screen.

The City of Joburg's Lisa Seftel explains.

"We're saying to everyone who wants to attend the memorial services tomorrow that they should leave early and plan their trips."

She said no private cars are being allowed near the FNB stadium.

"I think it will be a complete lockdown by this evening to ensure there is a very safe environment tomorrow for this very big event. All our services will start operating from 5am and the stadium gates will be open from 6am."

The Department of International Relations is hard at work preparing for the service which is expected to be among the largest gatherings of world leaders in history.

This follows a weekend which saw South Africans flocking to various places of worship to share in a day of prayer and reflection for Madiba.

Seventy heads of state have now confirmed their attendance and they're expected to arrive throughout the day today.

Some are also expected to speak during the service.

International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said the number of high-profile guests arriving in South Africa is unprecedented.

In an unusual move, four American presidents, namely current President Barack Obama and former Presidents George W Bush, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter will attend with their wives, along with 26 congressmen.

Once the venue is full, people will be redirected to three other stadiums that will be broadcasting the event, namely Ellis Park, Orlando Stadium and Dobsonville Stadium.

Cars will not be allowed near the stadiums, but special bus and train services will be offered.

The stadium is scheduled to open at 6am and the event is set to start at 11am.


Several other events are also planned for this week and points of interest such as memorial sites with condolence books are also being arranged.

Provincial legislatures and city councils are also hosting special sittings this week.

From 11 to 13 December, Mandela's remains will lie in state at the Union Buildings in Pretoria.

A procession will leave 1 Military Hospital at 7am everyday.

Government has encouraged members of the public to form a guard of honour along the route in the mornings.

On Wednesday, only the Mandela family and VVIPs will view the body from 10am, after which members of the public can file past the body from 12pm to 5.30pm.

On Thursday and Friday, the public will have access to the casket from 8am to 5.30pm.

This will be followed by Sunday's funeral in Qunu.

Nkoana-Mashabane said the majority of international guests will not travel to Qunu in the Eastern Cape for the funeral which is taking place on 15 December.

For an up-to-date and comprehensive guide to the various events, including information on transport, see EWN's special guide, Saying goodbye to Madiba: Event planner or the shorter guide, Mandela events: Brief information guide.

If you are going to FNB Stadium, click here for a full breakdown of transport arrangements.

Laser image of #Madiba cast on Table Mountain: pic.twitter.com/JdU2KEQaYY @CapeTalk567 @KienoKammies