Soldiers on leave told to report for Mandela funeral

Johannesburg, Dec 7: The South Africa National Defense Force (SANDF) Saturday ordered all soldiers on leave to “urgently report for duty” and provide support for the funeral of former president Nelson Mandela.

“Members must report back to their units, bases or stations by at the latest 12 o’clock midnight Dec 7,” Xinhua quoted the SANDF as saying in a statement.

The government has declared a state funeral for Mandela, who died Dec 5.

The funeral and multiple mourning events are expected leaders from around the world.

SANDF spokesman Siphiwe Dlamini said logistics support would be provided.

“This is a category-one funeral, so there will be a lot of activities that involve the defense force. Security is a police responsibility, with the defense force providing support,” Dlamini said.

Forces will be deployed at airports, the seat of government where Mandela’s body will lie in state and his childhood village Qunu where he will be buried, the spokesman said.

According to a schedule announced by President Jacob Zuma, the days leading to the state funeral Dec 15 will have a day of reflection and prayer Sunday, a national memorial in an 90,000-capacity soccer stadium in Johannesburg Tuesday and a three-day period for Mandela’s body to lie in state at the Union Buildings in Pretoria starting Wednesday.

Mandela will be laid to rest in Qunu in Eastern Cape Province Dec 15.

IANS