Madiba comes home to Qunu

The former president will be laid to rest in his childhood hometown on Sunday.

The cortège transporting Nelson Mandela’s body arrives in Qunu, Eastern Cape, ahead of his 15 December funeral, 14 December 2013. Picture: AFP.

MTHATHA/QUNU - The body of former president Nelson Mandela has arrived in Qunu, Eastern Cape, where he will be buried on Sunday.

Madiba died last Thursday at the age of 95. He had faced a lengthy battle with a recurring lung infection.

Members of the ANC and the Tripartite Alliance bid Mandela farewell at the Waterkloof Air Force Base in Pretoria this morning. Mandela's body was flown to the Eastern Cape Mthatha Airport.

The coffin was taken from a military plane which arrived at Mthatha following a two hour flight.

Members of the military salute the casket of former president Nelson Mandela at Mthatha Airport, Eastern Cape, as the procession prepares to depart to Qunu, 14 December 2013. Picture: GCIS.

The military procession transporting his body arrived in his childhood hometown at around 4pm.

A large number of people lined the route from Mthatha to Qunu, with many singing, waving flags and raising their fists as the cortège went past.

People line up in keen anticipation of the procession of Nelson Mandela outside Mthatha Airport in the Eastern Cape on 14 December 2013. Picture: Rahima Essop/EWN.

Members of the Mandela family have also arrived in the village.

At least 26 heads of state, royals, eminent persons and foreign government representatives have so far confirmed their attendance.

Nelson Mandela's wife Graça Machel (R) and ex-wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela leaving Mthatha Airport after the arrival of his body, 14 December 2013. Picture: GCIS.

Amid apparent confusion, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu has cancelled his flight to the Eastern Cape saying he had no indication he had been invited to attend the funeral.

But government says Tutu had indeed been invited to the private ceremony, saying it's surprised Tutu will not be attending the proceedings as he was on the invitation list.

Government spokesperson Phumla Williams says government doesn't send out invites for funerals but does have a list of accredited people.

"If he had called, we would have given him accreditation. They would never have turned Tutu away. There were no malicious shenanigans."

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu leads a service for the late Nelson Mandela at the St George's Cathedral in Cape Town, 6 December 2013. Picture: SAPA.

The funeral service is set to begin at around 8am tomorrow.

Throughout this week, a number of events have taken place in his honour, with the national memorial service at FNB Stadium on Tuesday and Mandela's body lying in state at the Union Buildings from Wednesday to Friday.

The cortège transporting Nelson Mandela's body arrives in Qunu, Eastern Cape, ahead of his 15 December funeral, 14 December 2013. Picture: AFP.