…as Tutu decides to attend ceremony
South African security forces have lined the road to Nelson Mandela’s burial site in his boyhood home at Qunu, as elders prepares to bury the world’s most revered statesman today.
Thousands of high-profile mourners, among them the Rev Jesse Jackson, Malawi President Joyce Banda and Prince Charles are in the remote location in Eastern Cape province, where Mandela will finally be laid to rest today at noon
Bishop Desmond Tutu will also attend after reports yesterday said that he was not invited to the private ceremony raising suspicion that the African National Congress was blocking him because his criticism
Access into the compound perched on a hilltop overlooking clutches of traditional huts is restricted to family members and relatives and several delivery trucks that were seen passing through the gates.
Mandela’s flag-draped casket was accompanied by a military honour guard and flown to Qunu in South Africa’s Eastern Cape province yesterday after a solemn ceremony at Waterkloof air base organised by the ruling African National Congress (ANC) which he once led.
President Jacob Zuma praised Mandela recounting the struggle against racist white rule. Flanked by Mandela’s widow Graca Machel and ex-wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, he said South Africa needed “more Madibas” — using Mandela’s clan name — in order to prosper.
“Yes we are free but the challenge of inequality remains,” Zuma said, citing the twin blights of poverty and unemployment on the country’s economic progress
Police are stationed along the length of the 35km road from the airport to Qunu, often stopping and searching vehicles.
The section nearest the Mandela homestead has been cordoned off since last week.