Orlando Stadium in Soweto is a hive of activity ahead of the funeral service of struggle icon Winnie Nomzamo Madikizela-Mandela, who will be laid to rest on Saturday.
Members of the Johannesburg Metro Police Department (JMPD) and South African Police Service (SAPS) had a busy day on Friday, as they were controlling traffic and ensuring that only accredited people are allowed access inside the stadium.
Inside the stadium, a number of outside broadcast vans for the various media houses could be seen with people coming in and out checking the sound in final preparation for Saturday’s live broadcast of the funeral, while the South African Defence Force did their final dry run.
It’s all systems go
Acting Director-General for Government Communication and Information System (GCIS), Phumla Williams, said preparations are in the final stages and it’s all systems go for tomorrow’s funeral.
“Today we’ve taken the media on a walkabout so that they have a feel of where they will be going. It’s all systems go and we feel we are all ready,” Williams said at a technical briefing held at the stadium on Friday morning.
On transportation of mourners on Saturday, Williams said the park-and-ride busses are expected to be at Nasrec Train Station gate 1 or 2 at about 4am, where they will transport people to the stadium.
“We expect that the transportation of mourners will be concluded by 7.30am because the funeral programme is scheduled to begin at 9am,” Williams said.
Guard of honour for Mama Winnie as body returns home
Meanwhile, the Madikizela-Mandela family have announced a guard of honour for her on Friday afternoon, when her body makes its way from Kupane Funeral Parlour to her home in Orlando West.
The family invited members of the community to form the guard of honour along the route to the family’s residence in Soweto.
“…It will start at Sofasonke Street from the first big circle and turn right and continue along Sofasonke Street straight across the bridge. From there, it will cross Klipspruit Road, which becomes Khumalo Street. It will then turn left into Mothipa Street before finally turning left into Maseli Street towards Winnie Madikizela-Mandela’s residence,” family spokesperson Victor Dlamini said.
JMPD spokesperson Wayne Minnaar said that all roads around the stadium would be closed from Friday, ahead of the escort of the guard of honour, which is expected to start at 3pm from Kopano Street to Winnie Mandela’s home.
Minnaar said mourners should on Saturday park at the Nasrec Expo Centre, where they will use the park-and-ride facilities to the stadium.
“The funeral procession is expected to leave Orlando Stadium at about midday tomorrow,” he said.
Minnaar said the procession to Fourways Memorial Park is expected to be between 12pm and approximately 1pm, adding that no roads will be blocked off prior to the procession.
“All the roads will be opened, except for when the procession is on route to Fourways Memorial Park. We will have officers from Tshwane Metro Police, Gauteng Traffic Police, National Traffic Police, JMPD and SAPS on duty to divert traffic as we move along, and also for security,” Minnaar said.
Minnaar said an investigation is underway following rumours that a group of people in Diepsloot is planning to disrupt the funeral during the procession to Fourways.
Parents discouraged bringing young children
Meanwhile, the National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structures (NATJOINTS) have discouraged parents and guardians from bringing young children to the funeral of Madikizela-Mandela.
NATJOINTS said mourners will also not be allowed to enter the stadium with dangerous weapons, alcohol or any illegal substances, including spears, sticks or knobkerries.
“Hawkers will not be allowed to enter the security perimeter around Orlando Stadium. They may sell their goods outside the security zone. Mourners should cooperate with law enforcement officers and the designated marshals to ensure the smooth running for the funeral,” NATJOINTS said. – SAnews.gov.za