JOHANNESBURG: South Africa’s defence force on Saturday ordered soldiers on leave to report back for duty to provide support for Nelson Mandela’s mourning and funeral activities.
The “urgent message” was issued by the South African National Defence Force recalling all soldiers in units that have been assigned support duties.
“Members must report back to their units, bases or stations by at the latest 12 o’ clock midnight on 7 December 2013,” the defence force said in a statement.
The government has declared a state funeral and week of mourning with multiple events expected to draw masses of people to the streets and leaders from around the world.
Department of defence spokesman Siphiwe Dlamini told AFP that across the board logistics support would be provided.
“It’s a range of things that the defence force will be supporting from dignitaries to parades,” Dlamini said.
“This is a category-one funeral, so there will be a lot of activities that involve the defence force,” he added.
Security is a police responsibility, with the defence force providing support. Forces will deploy at airports, the seat of government where Mandela’s body will lie in state, and his childhood village Qunu where he will be buried.
On Tuesday, an official memorial will take place in Johannesburg which statesmen such as US President Barack Obama will attend.
This will be followed by three days during which Mandela’s body will lie in state in Pretoria and his body will be driven publicly through the city to the seat of government.
Finally, Mandela will be laid to rest next Sunday in Qunu, his rural childhood village.