Mandela funeral: We are ready, says Qunu mayor

South Africa
Qunu – Costly plans by international media to cover Nelson Mandela's funeral are at risk from the weather. A thick mist has been hanging over Madiba's ancestral home and the incessant rain has turned roads into muddy rivers. eNCA
A flame burns near a portrait of late former South African President Nelson Mandela at the Nelson Mandela Museum in Qunu December 11, 2013. Picture: REUTERS / Siegfried Modola
December 11, 2013: People work on the property of former South African President Nelson Mandela, as construction continues at the arena in Qunu, where his funeral will be held. Picture: REUTERS / Rogan Ward
December 11, 2013: South African military personnel keep guard around the perimeter of Nelson Mandela's property in Qunu, his ancestral home in the rolling hills of the Eastern Cape. Mandela will be buried in Qunu on Sunday. Picture: REUTERS/Adrees Latif
The structure inside Nelson Mandela's Qunu property was built by a large yellow crane and was a few metres high and wide. It could be seen from the N2 which is the main road between Qunu and Mthatha. Picture: Dev/SAPA

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.






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