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Motorists urged to avoid Westpark Cemetry area due to Kathrada, Mafela funerals

Police have appealed to motorists to avoid the M1 south between Houghton and the Westpark Cemetery during those funeral services.

A marquee is set up at the Westpark Cemetery for Ahmed Kathrada's funeral. Picture: Ziyanda Ngcobo/EWN

JOHANNESBURG – Joburg Metro Police have appealed to motorists to avoid the M1 South between Houghton and the Westpark Cemetery during the funeral services of Ahmed Kathrada and Joe Mafela.

Spokesperson Wayne Minnaar says: “Traffic will be diverted on certain roads for the funeral procession of the late Ahmed Kathrada. Traffic diversion will be based from 8:30 am until 10 am and motorists are advised to avoid the Mark 1 South, Empire Road and Beyers Naude Drive during this time.”

Veteran actor Joe Mafela will also be laid to rest at the West Park cemetery on Wednesday morning.

Mourners will first gather at the University of Johannesburg’s Soweto campus.

Mafela died in a car crash on the M1 in Johannesburg earlier this month. He was 75.

At the same time, former and current politicians have remembered Kathrada for his integrity, commending him for his contribution to the fight against apartheid.

Tributes continue to pour in for the former Rivonia trialist who passed away on Tuesday at the age of 87.

His partner Barbara Hogan, who served as Minister of Public Enterprise, received guests at their Killarney home on Tuesday, including deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and former Finance Minister Trevor Manuel.

Ramaphosa spoke of Kathrada’s strong values.

“He was in prison for 26 years and he was only free for 27 years. And for this, we see a person’s life which was just dedicated to making sure that our people are free, making sure that we have this democracy.”

Manuel related his fond memories of Kathrada.

“My personal contact with him goes back to 1985 when I was in Pollsmoor and he went past my cell, said hello to me and asked me to be strong on his way to a hospital.”

Kathrada will be laid to rest on Wednesday morning.

Dozens of dignitaries, including members of the African National Congress (ANC)’ s top six are expected to pay their last respects at the burial of the struggle stalwart.

On Tuesday, President Jacob Zuma declared a special official funeral for the liberation activist but it’s unclear whether he will be attending Wednesday's proceedings.

The Ahmed Kathrada Foundation has denied barring the president from being at the cemetery and has only indicated that Zuma would not be a speaker at the service.

Former President Kgalema Motlanthe is expected to give a political tribute to Kathrada before the funeral proceedings get underway.

The foundation CEO Neeshan Balton says: “The funeral will be at Westpark Cemetery at 10am and then there will be other tributes from various other sectors there. There will be an interfaith service, culminating in a Muslim prayer and Muslim burial.”

Ramaphosa will lead the state’s special official memorial on Wednesday.

(Edited by Leeto M Khoza)