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Nelson Mandela’s funeral under way

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Pretoria, Dec 15 :

The state funeral of the late South African president Nelson Mandela is under way in the village of Qunu in the Eastern Cape province, ending the 10-day official mourning period since the global icon passed away Dec 5.

The funeral is a category 1 state funeral accompanied by full military ceremonial honours, South Africa’s government news agency SA News reported.

'Madiba' Nelson Mandela
‘Madiba’ Nelson Mandela

Diplomatic protocol and traditional Xhosa customs will be carried out too in the funeral, which is being attended by over 4,500 people.

It is taking place in a specially constructed dome, with purple and black chairs for the mourners to sit.

Dignitaries attending the funeral include Malawi President Joyce Banda and Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete.

Other speakers on the programme include Ngangomhlaba Matanzima, representing the family. He will be followed by Mandela’s close friend and comrade Ahmed Kathrada.

Britain’s Prince Charles and billionaire businessman Patrice Motsepe and celebrity Oprah Winfrey are also attending the funeral. A limited number of people from Qunu have also been accommodated.

Public viewing areas have been set up across the country and television channels across the world are broadcasting the ceremony.

Mandela will be buried next to his relatives at the family gravesite in a private ceremony.

Mandela, South Africa’s first democratically elected black president, died of illness in his Johannesburg home Dec 5 at the age of 95. (IANS)