, JOHANNESBURG, Dec 6 – South African President Jacob Zuma on Friday announced a 10-day period of mourning following the death of Nelson Mandela, culminating in a state funeral and burial on December 15.
“The former president will be accorded a state funeral. He will be laid to rest on the December 15 in Qunu in the Eastern Cape province,” Zuma announced.
“We should all work together to organise the most befitting funeral for this outstanding son of our country and the father of our young nation.”
Zuma outlined a 10-day calendar of events to follow Mandela’s death at his Johannesburg home on Thursday.
He called on South Africans to take part in a day of prayer this Sunday.
“We have declared Sunday the December 8 as a national day of prayer and reflection.”
“We call upon all our people to gather in halls, churches, mosques, temples, synagogues and in their homes to pray and hold the prayer services and meditation, reflecting on the life of Madiba and his contribution to our country and the world.”
On Monday December 9 both houses of parliament will be recalled from recess for a special joint sitting in honour of Mandela’s legacy.
On December 10 a memorial service will be held at a 90,000-plus capacity stadium in Soweto.
Government spokeswoman Phumla Williams told AFP that some heads of state will attend that service while others will attend the state funeral on December 15.
The “Soccer City” stadium hosted the 2010 World Cup final where Mandela made his last major public appearance.
Mandela will then lie in state in the capital Pretoria.
“From the 11th to the 13th of December, the remains of our beloved Madiba will lie in state at the seat of government, the Union Buildings in Pretoria, where he served as the first president of this young democracy,” Zuma said.
He will then be buried in Qunu, a rural town in the Eastern Cape, the hilly rural area where Mandela was born and grew up.
Heads of state from around the world, including US President Barack Obama, and well-known personalities who were close to the statesman like Oprah Winfrey and Bill and Hillary Clinton are expected to attend the funeral.
The gathering of world leaders will be one of the largest in South Africa since Mandela was inaugurated as its first black president in 1994.
South African Airways announced it will put on special service to ferry invited mourners to the Eastern Cape.
Mandela will be buried next to the remains of his family, including three deceased children.
The children’s graves were the subject of a bitter court feud between Mandela’s grandson Mandla and other relatives, including his current wife Graca Machel and ex-wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.
Mandla had moved the remains without his relatives’ consent in 2011, in what they called an effort to force his grandfather’s last resting place from his childhood village Qunu to his birthplace Mvezo around 30 kilometres (18 miles) away.
The court ordered the remains to be returned to Qunu.
In recent years authorities rushed to renovate the nearby Mthatha airport and roads leading to Qunu as Mandela’s health deteriorated and the prospect of large funeral proceedings loomed.