Media release

Nelson Mandela State Funeral update

14 December 2013

­­­­14 December 2013

Fellow South Africans
Ladies and gentlemen of the media

Earlier today the body of our beloved former President Nelson Mandela returned to his home at Qunu in the Eastern Cape where he will be laid to rest tomorrow, Sunday 15 December 2013.

The former President’s body was received at Mthatha in the Eastern Cape with full military and ceremonial honours by the South African National Defence Force which leads the State Funeral.

The atmosphere in Qunu has naturally been solemn as the family, the broader community of Qunu and the people of the Eastern Cape welcomed Madiba home for the last time.

Following this week’s proceedings in Johannesburg and Pretoria, the events at Mthatha and Qunu this weekend constitute an opportunity for the people of the region where President Mandela’s life began, to bid him farewell.

The passing of the cortege through the streets of Mthatha, the public guard of honour along the 46km route from Mthatha to Qunu and the establishment of public mourning sites with live television feeds have allowed thousands of people to be part of this historic occasion.

The arrangements that are in place at the Mandela family homestead in Qunu make provision for about 4 500 people to attend tomorrow’s State Funeral Service in a marquee on the family property.

This service will be followed by the AbaThembu burial ceremony which will be witnessed by approximately 450 people.


The State Funeral Service and burial in Qunu will be attended by guests who have been accredited after indicating their interest in attending the State Funeral Service. Invitations have not been issued for these events.

The funeral service will accommodate around 4 500 accredited guests. Between 450 of these guests, including members of the Mandela family, have been accredited to move to the actual burial site where the AbaThembu community will conduct a traditional ceremony.

The funeral service will be broadcast live on television to allow millions of people both in South Africa and around the globe a chance to follow Tata Madiba’s final journey to his resting place.

We appeal for respect for the former President’s final resting place and for all to be sensitive to this culturally significant site of the AbaThembu clan.


No vehicles are being allowed into the area around the Mandela family residence which is a secure zone. Accredited guests attending the funeral will be transported from a park and ride facility at Walter Sisulu University.

The first shuttle service from East London Airport will depart at midnight tonight (Saturday) and the last will leave at 02h00.

There will be park and ride services at Walter Sisulu University Zamukulungisa Campus with the first bus departing at 02h00 and the last at 04h00 to the funeral venue.

Doors to the marquee will open at 05h00.

All guests should be seated by 07h00.  Doors will close at 07h30.


  • The following road closures and diversions will be in place until after the funeral:

Travelling to Mthatha from Kokstad/Durban:

  • At the N2 Tsolo Junction traffic will be diverted to the R396 to Maclear.
  • In Mthatha, at the Shell Ultra City, traffic will also be diverted to the R61

Travelling from East London to Mthatha:

  • Near Butterworth on the N2 at Ndabakazi traffic to be diverted to Tsomo on to the R61
  • At Idutywa on the N2 traffic will be diverted to Engcobo on to the R61
  • At Engcobo on the R61 at Coghlan a diversion will take place to a gravel road

There will be traffic delays and we ask the public to be patient and understanding of the special circumstances.


Public mourning and broadcast viewing areas will be available around the country. We urge the public to use those broadcast viewing areas closest to them to manage traffic flow and logistics around the areas.

Members of the public do not have to be accredited to attend the public mourning viewing areas. They are requested to continue to show the dignity and respect deserving of an occasion of this nature and magnitude.

People can follow live television broadcasts at the following places:

  • King Sabatha Dalindyebo - Rotary Stadium, Open space below Qunu Museum, Mthatha Stadium, Khaya Majola Stadium, Empa Village next to Qunu, Nkalane village next to Qunu, Mvezo Traditional Council, Mqekezweni Traditional Council
  • Port St Johns - Port St Johns Sports Ground
  • Ingquza Hill - Lusikisiki College Grounds
  • Mhlontlo - Tsolo Junction
  • Nelson  Mandela Metro - Nelson Mandela Stadium
  • Buffalo City Metro - Sisa Dukashe Stadium
  • Intsika Yethu - Cofimvaba Stadium
  • Queenstown - Queenstown Sports complex
  • Senqu - Lady Grey (Kwezi Naledi Hall)
  • Makana - Miki Yili Stadium (Grahamstown)
  • Kouga – Humansdorp
  • Blue Crane - Somerset East Town Hall
  • Matatiele - Matatiele Stadium
  • Mzimvubu - Mt Ayliff Town Hall
  • Mnquma - Nqadu Great Place
  • Mbhashe - Idutywa Sports Ground


A zone has been declared around the Qunu Farm in which no media will be allowed.

Media who have secured private accommodation that fall within the neutral zone will not be permitted in the private space. Media will not be allowed to take pictures with in the neutral zone as this will be in breach of protocol and security issues.

We are finalising the accreditation process. For the media we have not received any further requests for accreditation.

For the public: we will work overnight, until about 5am, for accreditation for the 4 500 guests. No accreditation is needed for members of the public.


Following media enquiries regarding the invitation to Archbishop Tutu, we wish to explain as follows:

Firstly, we would like to indicate that government issued no invitation to any guest. Neither the Presidency nor the Department of International Relations and Cooperation issued invitations to any guests.

However, the guest list for the National Memorial Service at FNB Stadium and the State Funeral at Qunu was generated as follows:

  1. The standard guest list which the Presidency keeps in its database for various functions which the Presidency hosts;
  2. The list submitted by the ANC, which had to submit a guest list to the accreditation committee.
  3. The list submitted by the family.
  4. The list submitted by religious leaders.
  5. The list submitted by Parliament.

The accreditation committee compared the list to ensure that there is no duplication of names on the final list.

The accrediation for people who were accredited for the National Memorial Service is still valid.  This matter was clarified in the first stage of accreditation.

With regard to the invitation to Archbishop Tutu, we would like to confirm that we did not send any invitation, as we did not send to anybody.

On the 9 December 2013 we received a list from church leaders which included the name of Archbishop Tutu. This list, which contained 112 names, was generated by church leaders and submitted by the Chaplain-General of the African National Congress.

Archbishop Tutu’s name was number six (6) on the list. 

He was accredited both for FNB Stadium and Qunu in the first round of accreditation, like anyone wishing to pay their respects on the final leg of our journey.

Looking at the media reports it seems the accreditation is confused with the opportunity to participate in the programme.

In this regard there are two processes: the speakers on the programme was a product of discussions between the family and government because this is a State Funeral.

The items relating to church leaders was compiled and finalised by church leaders and the family for both occasions. Government and the ANC had no role to play.

That part of the programme (for the State Funeral) was finalised between the church leaders and the family. Government was then provided with names to be included in the programme which government was required to print.

Government did not comment on the programme, as we respected the wishes of the family.

We have since been assured by the church leaders that they will clarify this position with the Archbishop and we hope they have done so already.

We have left the matter in their hands.

Everyone who has been accredited is welcome to attend tomorrow’s State Funeral. As long as people’s names are on the accreditation list, they will be accommodated.

Government stands ready and will work through the night to assist any VIP who wishes to attend.

Ms Phumla Williams
Cell: 083 501 0139

ISSUED BY: Government Communications

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