11 December 2013
Fellow South Africans
Ladies and gentlemen of the media
Welcome to this briefing on 11 December 2013 – a day after the National Memorial Service for the late President Nelson Mandela at the FNB Stadium in Johannesburg – and the first day on which President Mandela is lying in state.
We are honoured to have the Mandela Family with us at this briefing where the family will express a vote of thanks to South Africa and the world for the success of yesterday’s National Memorial Service at FNB Stadium, Johannesburg.
Welcome, General Matanzima.
We also have with us the Minister of Home Affairs, Ms Naledi Pandor, who will focus on plans for national ports of entry over the next few days.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Yesterday was a momentous and moving day, as tens of thousands of people gathered at key venues around our country to mourn the loss of our Founding President, Nelson Mandela, and celebrate his life and legacy.
The National Memorial Service brought together South Africans from all walks of life and united us in mourning and celebration with friends and partners in the international community.
South Africa’s loss is the loss of all of humanity and it was therefore appropriate that we reached out to each other in this way to pay tribute to an unrivalled human being, patriot and leader.
It was natural for us yesterday to commute between sorrow and celebration, because Madiba represented so many things to so many people, based on a core set of values that set an example to all of us.
Vote of appreciation
Our sincerest thanks go to the Mandela Family for making it possible for South Africans and the global community to share in yesterday’s historic event.
We appreciate the fact that people joined yesterday’s event in pouring rain, and we appreciate the fact that people responded positively to our appeal for them to use public transport that was available free of charge.
We know this is a difficult time for the Mandela family but we trust that they have been comforted by the warm and affectionate responses of people around the world.
We thank South Africans from all walks of life for attending the National Memorial Service at the main venue and other sites where people followed broadcasts.
We thank South Africans for attending satellite events in urban centres and remote corners of our country as a means of being part of this national and global event.
We also thank people around the world for following the events in South Africa through the media, including social platforms. This has created an extraordinary sense of unity and focus among people from diverse backgrounds and geographies.
We thank the unprecedented number of international leaders and dignitaries who have joined us in South Africa. We thank them for their support and interest and for helping to advance the values and agenda of the great Nelson Mandela.
Compared with previous years, the increase in travelers during this period is relatively minor - with the exceptions of Waterkloof and Lanseria airports that had an above-average increase in traveller volumes.
Air Force Base Waterkloof recorded more than 600 traveller movements and Lanseria more than 450.
An estimated 60 Heads of State and Government were processed at Waterkloof and OR Tambo International, with the majority opting to travel via OR Tambo.
We wish those leaders who are returning home a safe visit and we look forward to working with them in future to create a better South Africa, a better Africa and a better world.
We hope that the stirring and inspiring words and ideas that were shared today will remains in people’s memories and that they will inspire people around the world to strive for and create the kind of society of which Madiba would be proud.
This is a time for us to be together and pull together as a nation and to honour Madiba with dignity and decorum.
We want to thank all the officials, marshals, volunteers and others whose hard work over the past few days and hours produced the efficiency and dignity we saw at yesterday’s event. This bodes well for the landmark events that will follow in the next few days.
Finally, as we look at yesterday’s events, government has noted the concern expressed in various quarters about the alleged incorrect use of sign language at the National Memorial Service.
Government is looking into this matter but has not been able to conclude this inquiry due to the demanding schedule of organising events related to the State Funeral.
Government will report publicly on any information it may establish but wishes to assure South Africans that we are clear in defending the rights and dignity of people
Lying in State
This morning, we reached another important stage in the process of bidding Madiba farewell, as his body was escorted along a memorial route from 1 Military Hospital, Thaba Tshwane, to the Union Buildings.
This is the first of three days during which President Mandela will lie in state at the seat of government, on a podium at the very site where he was inaugurated as President in 1994.
These three days give ordinary people a unique opportunity to be part of this commemoration.
Cut-off reached for today's public viewing of President Mandela's body
Government wants to advise members of the public that the cut-off has been reached for people wishing to view President Mandela’s body at the Union Buildings this afternoon.
Large numbers of people are still in queues at the various points around the City of Tshwane from which mourners are being transported to the Union Buildings.
Government welcomes the interest people have showed in wanting to bid Madiba farewell, but we have reached the limit for the day.
The main park-and-ride points from which people are being shuttled to the Union Buildings are the Tshwane Events Centre, or Tshwabac, and the LC de Villiers (South St entrance) sports complex in Hatfield.
The Fountains Valley park-and-ride site is an overflow point, from which visitors are transferred to the Events Centre or LC de Villiers, where they are prepared for the visit to the Union Buildings.
Organising authorities appeal to people to be patient. Government is trying to accommodate as many people as possible.
For this to happen, visitors must comply with the very strict military protocols that govern the lying-in-state.
Mourners must set out from home early in the morning and be prepared to wait in line.
Government appeals for calm and decency in cases where people are turned away, as the protocol dictates that viewing is from 8am to 5.30pm. Organisers will stop loading people onto buses at about 4-4.30pm.
No identity documents or accreditation is required for this event.
Cellphones will need to be switched off and out of sight at the Union buildings and no cameras are allowed.
Indelible ink, such as that used during elections, will be used to mark mourners’ fingers so that no-one will be able to visit the Union Buildings more than once.
Visitors will not be able to stop at the casket as the continuous movement of people will help us to accommodate as many mourners as possible. This way, we expect that up to 2 000 people per hour could file past the casket.
Children are welcome to join their parents but parents must use the necessary discretion, as the event can be emotional for some adults or children.
Visitors will return to the park-and-ride sites on the same shuttles. This means no-one will be able to leave the Union Buildings precinct on foot.
The suburbs surrounding the Union Buildings will be closed to vehicular traffic and pedestrians unless the necessary permission is given.
Apart from being shuttled to the Union building there is no other way people can get to the Union Buildings.
We call on people to cooperate with authorities at all stages of the process to ensure that it is safe and dignified and that as many people as possible can share in this unique occasion.
People are advised to keep following media for details for road closures and other arrangements and find information on the City of Tshwane’s website www.tshwane.gov.za or the government memorial website www.mandela.gov.za.
Updates can also be followed on social media.
Public guard of honour
Each day, the procession will leave the hospital at 7am and arrive at the Union buildings at 8am.
Members of the public are invited to form a public guard of honour along the memorial route.
We ask the public to line up along Kgosi Mampuru Street from the intersection with Jeff Masemola Street.
From Kgosi Mampuru the cortege will turn eastward into Madiba Street, along which it will make its way to the Union Buildings.
Government Communications (or GCIS) will hand out flags each morning to people lining the memorial route. Flags will also be given to mourners who will view President Mandela’s casket at the Union Buildings.
This memorial route has resulted in road closures in streets adjoining the memorial route. The following road closures will be in place each morning:
- Madiba Street from Paul Kruger to Lilian Ngoyi: Alternative route – Paul Kruger through Church Square (South) and Paul Kruger to Struben (North)
- Thabo Sehume Street from Johannes Ramokhoase to Pretorius: Alternative route – Paul Kruger through Church Square (South)
- Pretorius Street from Lilian Ngoyi to Paul Kruger: Alternative route – Visagie (West) or Johannes Ramokhoase (West)
It is important to stress that the public guard of honour will not be in place on any of the three evenings.
Members of the public will pay their respects between noon and 5.30pm.
Women's day of prayer: Tribute
Government and various sectors of society are involved in a range of events countrywide that are designed to give people a chance to mourn and celebrate the life of Nelson Mandela.
In recognition of the ways in which uTata Madiba promoted women’s development and emancipation, the Gauteng Provincial Government will host an Interfaith Women’s Day of Prayer at Orlando Stadium, Soweto, tomorrow, Thursday, 12 December 2013.
This event gives women of all religious persuasions in the province an opportunity to reflect, pray and celebrate the role of Madiba.
The programme will include representatives from different religious groups including Christians, Muslims, Bahai, Jewish, Hindu and African Independent Churches.
The event will begin at 9am and people who would like more information, can contact the provincial call centre on 0860 0011 000.
Information about this and other events can be found at www.gautengonline.gov.za and the province’s social media accounts.
Madiba memorial concert, State Theatre
This evening, Wednesday 11 December 2013, the Department of Arts and Culture and the State Theatre will host a memorial concert at the State Theatre at 7.30pm.
Admission is free to this performance that will feature Gauteng Choristers, Vusi Mahlasela and excerpts from The Rivonia Trial with Sello Maake ka Ncube. Many other artists and groups are scheduled to perform.
Tickets can be collected from 6pm.
Media at Qunu
I now want to turn to the issue of media arrangements around President Mandela’s final resting place at Qunu in the Eastern Cape.
Throughout this process, government has ensured that media have the necessary access and facilities to cover this global event.
It has, however, come to our attention that some members of the media have violated the protocols and arrangements that are in place in Qunu, and that this is causing frustration for the authorities and the Mandela family and community of Qunu.
Government appeals to members of the media to respect former President Nelson Mandela’s final resting place in Qunu, Eastern Cape.
As has been the practice in the days since the passing of the first democratically elected President of South Africa, media have had access to all events and provided with timeous information on arrangements for the days of the national mourning period declared by President Zuma.
The final resting place of the former President is culturally significant to the amaThembu clan. We ask the media to please be sensitive to this and respect this site.
We appeal to members of the media who have not been accredited at the Nasrec Expo Centre in Johannesburg to do so at Zamakulungisa Technical College campus at Walter Sisulu University, as well as the Mandela Heritage Centre at Qunu.
Media are asked to cooperate with security officers who are there to secure the area around Qunu.
Issued by Government Communication and Information System
Acting Government Spokesperson
083 5010 139