EC prepares for arrival of Madiba’s body

Many locals have expressed their frustration at not being able to attend the funeral.

Dozens of military and police trucks have arrived at Mthatha Airport on 13 December 2013 for rehearsals ahead of Nelson Mandela’s state funeral on 14 December. Picture: Govan Whittles/EWN.

MTHATHA - Military, police and private security personnel are preparing for a rehearsal of Nelson Mandela's funeral procession from the Mthatha Airport.

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

The former statesman's body will leave from Waterkloof Air Force Base in Pretoria and arrive in Mthatha in the Eastern Cape on Saturday.

A procession will accompany his body to his hometown and final resting place in Qunu, a small village around 36 kilometres away from Mthatha, ahead of Sunday morning's state funeral.

Hundreds of men and women in South African National Defence Force (SANDF) uniforms arrived at the airport in a convoy of military trucks and police nyalas.

President Jacob Zuma has also deployed more than 11,000 members of the army to assist in transporting Madiba's body.

Once the former president's body arrives, a cultural receiving ceremony will be conducted and the military will also hold an exercise.

Outside the airport, there are groups of ANC marshals singing songs about Madiba as they await instructions on their role in the historic proceedings.

Around 4,000 people are expected to attend the funeral but only 400 will be allowed to the burial site.

Eastern Cape MEC for Provincial Planning and Treasury Phumulo Masualle told 567 Cape Talk they have done their best to prepare for this massive event.

LOCALS FRUSTRATED

Frustrated youths are voicing their displeasure at the fact that all the main events to honour Madiba have been held in other provinces.

Many people there say the Eastern Cape is being discriminated against, even though Madiba is from the province.

Community members are unhappy that they will be forced to watch the funeral from big screens, instead of being allowed to attend the historic event.

Masualle said they could not accommodate everyone at a single venue.

He says 21 public mourning venues have been established across the province.

Five venues can accommodate 5,000 people.

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