Preparations in full swing for Mandela's funeral: government
JOHANNESBURG, Dec. 7 (Xinhua) -- The South African government announced on Saturday that preparations are in full swing for the funeral of former president Nelson Mandela.
Among the arrangements, Mandela's body is being prepared by the Military Health Service of the South African National Defense Force to lie in state at the Union Buildings from Dec. 11 to 13, said Collins Chabane, Minister in the Presidency.
Work is also underway at critical venues such as the Union Buildings in Pretoria, FNB Stadium in Johannesburg, Mthatha and Qunu in the Eastern Cape, and at ports of entry to prepare for the events related to the State Funeral, scheduled for Dec. 15, the minister said in a statement.
He said the government reiterates the call by President Jacob Zuma for the nation to use Dec. 8 as a national day of prayer and reflection in places of worship, homes and communities to celebrate the life of Mandela and the legacy he has left.
The government has set Dec. 10 for official memorial service at FNB Stadium, to be attended by members of the public, VIPs and VVIPs.
This event will be attended by a number of visiting Heads of State and Government, Chabane said, adding that the government is in the process of briefing the diplomatic corps to facilitate the attendance of visiting leaders.
South Africans and selected international visitors and guests will be able to view Mandela's remains at the Union Buildings for three days from Dec. 11.
Mandela's remains will be transported daily between 1 Military Hospital in Pretoria and the Union Buildings, Chabane said.
On Dec. 14, Mandela's remains will be transported to the Eastern Cape from Air Force Base Waterkloof in Pretoria, where the ruling African National Congress will bid Mandela farewell.
Also on this day, a procession will take place from Mthatha to Qunu where the Thembu community will conduct a traditional ceremony.
On Dec. 15, a funeral service and interment ceremony will take place at Mandela's home and final resting place at Qunu in the Eastern Cape.
"Government will keep South Africans and the international community updated as completely and transparently as possible, in order to make this farewell to Mandela as inclusive and popular as possible," Chabane said.
Mandela died of a long standing lung problem on Thursday at his Johannesburg home, at the age of 95.