EXPLAINER: What does an official funeral in SA entail?


People paid their respects to Winnie Madikizela-Mandela in Durban on April 2, 2018.

JOHANNESBURG - President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced that the late struggle stalwart Winnie Madikizela-Mandela will receive an official funeral (category 1). 


According to the Presidency, "a Special Official Funeral Category 1 entails elements of military ceremonial honours and is declared, in line with the Presidency’s State, Official and Provincial Official Funeral Policy, for persons of extraordinary credentials specifically designated by the President of the Republic of South Africa.

"Mam’ Winnie deserves the highest respect our nation can demonstrate in honour of a patriot and citizen who served our nation and humanity at large with distinction during our liberation struggle and throughout our democratic dispensation,” President Ramaphosa said.

"In line with this declaration, the national flag shall, with immediate effect, fly at half-mast at all flag stations countrywide and at South African diplomatic missions abroad. This will be observed until the evening of 14 April 2018."

The president has further declared national days of mourning from Tuesday, 3 April, to 14 April, when Madikizela-Mandela will be buried.

WATCH: Entertainers pay tribute to Mama Winnie

Here is what an official funeral entails: 

  • The national days of mourning shall commence on the day of the announcement by the Presidency until the evening of the burial or cremation.
  • The remains will not lie in state.
  • In all categories of funeral, including the official funeral, a night vigil is the prerogative of the family and the state may assist.
  • In both categories 1 and 2 of the official funeral and special official funeral, the funeral planning committee shall – in consultation with the family of the deceased – decide where and when the funeral service and the burial or cremation will take place.
  • In respect of a state, official or special official funeral, the departments involved shall be responsible for reasonable costs related to the services they are expected to offer (funeral undertaker costs, including the coffin, and limited catering for the family and state/official guests).
  • The family shall also provide the director-general in the Presidency with the names of family members/friends who will act as pall-bearers. The family shall notify these members, who will confirm their availability to the Presidency.
  • The South African Police Service shall provide security services and, where needed, a mounted escort; control the public; control traffic, in cooperation with traffic authorities and the defence force; and line streets, as may be requested by the SA National Defence Force.


State, Official and Provincial Funeral Policy by eNCA.com on Scribd