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South Africa in full gear for Nelson Mandela's funeral

By Ians English

Cape Town, Dec 13: South Africa is fully prepared for former president Nelson Mandela's funeral, authorities said on Friday.

"Everything is on track in terms of arrangements for the funeral," Xinhua quoted Xolani Mabangu, spokesman of the South Africa National Defence Force (SANDF), as saying.

President Jacob Zuma has ordered the deployment of the SANDF at Qunu, Eastern Cape, where Mandela will be laid to rest Sunday.

At least 11,894 SANDF members will be deployed in cooperation with the South African Police Service to maintain law and order during the funeral service at Qunu, Mandela's native village, presidential spokesman Mac Maharaj said.

The security personnel are being deployed from Dec 6 to Dec 20. Some of Mandela's family members have arrived at Qunu, where the abaThembu clan will conduct the funeral in a traditional way.

About 5,000 people will attend the funeral, including government officials and international dignitaries, according to Mabangu.

Mandela died of illness at his Johannesburg home Dec 5 at the age of 95.

Mandela died of illness at his Johannesburg home Dec 5 at the age of 95. Friday is the third and final day of his body lying in state at the Union Buildings in Pretoria.

Mandela's body will be flown to the Eastern Cape Saturday.

The body will be formally handed over to the ruling African National Congress (ANC) at the Waterkloof Military Airbase in Pretoria, according to the government plan.

The ANC leaders will conduct a ceremony in honour of Mandela before his body is flown to the Eastern Cape.

A large contingent of local and international journalists has arrived at Qunu.

Minister in the Presidency Collins Chabane has said that throughout the process, the media would have the necessary access and facilities to cover this global event.


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