Mandela funeral: We are ready, says Qunu mayor

MTHATHA - The OR Tambo district municipality is ready for the influx of people to the funeral of former president Nelson Mandela this weekend, mayor Nomakhosazana Meth said on Wednesday.

"We are ready. We are confident that we are ready," she said.

"There are going to be some changes from our daily operations, in particular as it relates to the Nelson Mandela Hospital [in Mthatha, Eastern Cape]," she said.

The military had taken over the hospital on Wednesday morning, and patients had been transferred to nearby hospitals. Only people who were seriously ill and those in intensive care remained at the hospital.

It would still admit emergency patients and critical patients, said Meth.

From Thursday, the Mthatha airport would be declared a no-fly-zone, she said.

"There are hangars to receive dignitaries and heads of state, but the military will be in control.

"Everything is in order there, and we are ready to warmly welcome our guests."

Meth said there would be more road closures to avoid congestion in Qunu and Mthatha.

She said these would be signposted, and urged people to use the alternative routes.

Police have closed the N2, which is the main road to and from Qunu, for a few kilometres before and after Mandela's house.

Meth said water tankers had been delivered to Qunu, and the supply to hospitals in the area had been reinforced.

She said there would be 11 places in Qunu where people could watch broadcasts of the funeral on Sunday.

"We urge people to go there," she said.

Although there were about 40,000 people in Qunu and surrounding areas, nearly 70,000 people were expected in the municipality at the weekend.

Meth said that apart from the rainy weather, the municipality was ready.

She said preparations had been in place even before Mandela died at his home in Houghton, Johannesburg, on Thursday night at the age of 95.

 

- Sapa

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