9 December 2013

South Africa: 91 Heads of State to Attend Historic Memorial Service

Johannesburg - A total of 91 Heads of State and Government and 10 former Heads of State will attend the historic National Memorial Service of former President Nelson Mandela tomorrow, says Minister in the Presidency for Performance Monitoring and Evaluation Collins Chabane.

"By noon today [Monday], 91 Heads of State and Government and 10 former Heads of State had confirmed that they would attend the National Memorial Service at FNB Stadium. Kings and queens, princes and princesses will also join in at FNB," said Chabane, briefing the media.

The official memorial service for Mandela, who passed away at his Houghton home on Thursday, 5 December, will be held on Tuesday. Large numbers of ordinary South Africans as well as dignitaries from across the globe are expected to attend the memorial.

"We extend a warm welcome to them [visiting guests] at this time of mourning and celebration," Chabane said.

Government had advised the visiting leaders, some of whom arrived today, to attend tomorrow's memorial service, rather than Sunday's burial. "This in view of the logistical challenges in Qunu," he said.

The man regarded as the father of the nation will be buried in Qunu in the Eastern Cape on Sunday.

Chabane emphasised that not all members of the public will be accommodated at the main venue. He said the public can make use of Ellis Park Stadium and Orlando Stadium to view the memorial on big screens, where free transport to the stadia will be available. "We ask people to cooperate with officials when venues are full," he said, urging people to arrive early at the stadia. Stadia will open at 6am, with a cultural programme commencing from 8am to 11 am. The formal programme will get underway at 11am to 3 pm."

Chabane said the list of speakers, particularly those from abroad, had not yet been finalised.

Meanwhile, the Department of Social Development has requested that parents taking children to major public events must write their cell phone numbers in permanent marker ink on the inside of children's forearms.

"There are always instances of lost children at big events and this is very traumatic for the children and parents or guardians, and it is time-consuming for police and social workers," said Chabane.

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