(NOTE TO EDITORS: The original version of this statement referred to an opportunity for people in the Eastern Cape to be part of the State Funeral events on Saturday. This should have read “Sunday”. This update now correctly refers to “Sunday”. Please accept GCIS’s sincerest apology.)
13 December 2013
The passing away of President Nelson Mandela has united South Africans in dignified mourning and celebration.
However, in the midst of sadness and loss, the official mourning period - and the hundreds of spontaneous events associated with it in all corners of the country - have become a source of consolation, strength, hope and pride for the nation.
In the last three days, we have all been touched by the process by which the body of President Mandela was transported through the streets of Pretoria, watched by thousands of citizens.
Government thanks South Africans for making their way to President Mandela’s casket with patience, dignity and grace to bid him farewell for the last time. By the end of today at least 70 000 people would have visited the Union Buildings over the past three days to view President Mandela lying in state.
We also thank people for making their way to memorial events all over the country to show their support for the Mandela family and to share their thoughts and feelings on the passing of President Mandela.
We thank people for the patience and understanding they showed in those difficult moments that police turned them away from park and ride sites around Pretoria as queues filled up very quickly.
Our preparations over the next few hours are building up to Tata Madiba’s State Funeral with full military ceremonial honours.
This is a first for the country and shows the highest regard of our nation for the Founding President of our democratic dispensation who was also Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces.
In terms of this protocol, the funeral procession will be led by the armed forces.
21-gun salutes will take place.
There will be a flyover by the South African Air Force.
Guards of honour will be in place.
Brass bands will provide musical accompaniment at key stages.
The national anthem will be played.
The casket will be draped in the national flag except on those occasions where the body is presented to the African National Congress as the ruling party.
Today, as we observe the last day of Tata Madiba lying in state, our focus is firmly shifted to the e cape shifting to the Eastern Cape where preparations are underway for our beloved Founding President’s final journey to his resting place at Qunu.
Preparations are proceeding according to plan and we are confident that where we encounter problems, these will be addressed by the relevant authorities. At this stage, there is nothing major to report.
The South African National Defence Force is leading preparations for the State Funeral.
We must emphasise that the stages of the State Funeral over the next two days is very different from what we have seen in Johannesburg and Pretoria.
It is different in the sense of privacy, as this is a phase where the family, senior leadership in the country and a select group of international dignitaries will be part of proceedings.
No vehicles of any kind will be allowed into the area around the Mandela family farm. Guests who have been accredited to attend the funeral will be transported from a park and ride facility at Walter Sisulu University.
The late President lay in state at the Union Buildings in Pretoria as the seat of government.
In the Eastern Cape, arrangements have been made for the loving, supportive people of the province and people in the Qunu area to be part of the proceedings on Sunday. We will also accommodate a number of international dignitaries at Sunday’s funeral service.
It is also for this reason that the body of the former President was not flown directly to Qunu but will land at Mthatha.
The public will be able to line the route from Mthatha Airport all the way to Qunu.
Government, the Ruling Party and members of the Mandela family have worked tirelessly to ensure that South Africans from all walks of life are part of the special events being held currently in the area and nationwide and which are planned for the remainder of the mourning period.
As this is a State event, there will be road closures in and around Mthatha. These details are being provided to media in an attached document and will be posted on various official websites, including www.mandela.gov.za
Acting Government Spokesperson
Cell: 083 501 0139
Issued by Government Communication and Information System (GCIS)