Dignitaries arrive to grace Madiba memorial

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JOHANNESBURG – International heads of state and royalty have begun arriving in South Africa, Minister in the Presidency Collins Chabane said on Sunday.

“The fact that international leaders are making their way to South Africa at such short notice reflects the special place president Nelson Mandela holds in the hearts of people around the globe,” he said in Johannesburg.

“We are touched by the fact that many countries have declared periods of mourning, ordered that flags be flown at half-mast and draped or lit landmarks in the colours of the South African flag. We truly appreciate these gestures.”

Chabane said South Africa appreciated the willingness shown by people mourning, reflecting, and celebrating Mandela’s life and legacy.

“To date, 13 African states have confirmed attendance, in addition to 15 from outside the continent,” he said.

International and regional organisations, such as the United Nations, European Commission, and African Union had also confirmed attendance. Chabane said 11 eminent persons would also be in South Africa during this period.

US President Barack Obama would be accompanied by three of that country’s former presidents: Jimmy Carter, George W Bush and Bill Clinton and their spouses, and 26 congressmen.

Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff would be accompanied by four former heads of state.

“We expect more confirmations, and we wish to reiterate that our international guests are most welcome as they join us at this difficult time,” said Chabane.

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