4,500 expected to attend Mandela’s burial, less than 500 to actually witness it


Nelson Mandela died last week at age 95.

Events leading up to the burial included a memorial service on Tuesday followed by three days of public viewing at Pretoria’s Union Buildings, where he was sworn in as president in 1994.

About 100,000 people paid homage to Mandela during the three days he lay in state, government officials said.

The airport in East London, south of Qunu, will be used for the arrival and departure of dignitaries, with access closely controlled.

Thousands are expected to make the trip to Qunu for the burial, thrusting the remote village into the international spotlight. The guest list of foreign dignitaries include Britain’s Prince Charles, talk show host Oprah Winfrey and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

A private family prayer service will be held this morning at Mandela’s home. The funeral will take place in a white tent set up at the family farm.

The Mandela family, Zuma and the Cabinet members will be present along with local and foreign dignitaries. About 4,500 people are expected.

About 430 family and friends will walk to the grave site to say goodbye to the man many consider to be a symbol of peace.

Mandela will be buried in the rocky soil of his childhood home.

The burial area has been built for him; some of Mandela’s relatives are already buried there.

A tight military cordon is expected around the funeral site.

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