December 8, 2013

The South Africa National Defense Force (SANDF) on Saturday ordered all soldiers on leave to “urgently report for duty” and provide support for the funeral of former president Nelson Mandela.

“Members must report back to their units, bases or stations by at the latest 12 o’clock midnight on 7 December 2013,” the SANDF said in an emailed statement. The government has declared a state funeral for Mandela, who died on Dec. 5.

The funeral and multiple mourning events are expected to draw masses of people to the streets and leaders from around the world.

SANDF spokesman Siphiwe Dlamini said logistics support would be provided. “It’s a range of things that the defense 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 defense force. Security is a police responsibility, with the defense force providing support.”

Forces will be deployed at airports, the seat of government where Mandela’s body will lie in state and his childhood village Qunu where he will be buried, according to the spokesman.

Scores of world leaders and celebrities are expected to attend the funeral and memorial services.

According to a schedule announced by President Jacob Zuma, the days leading to the state funeral on Dec. 15 will be punctuated by a day of reflection and prayer on the coming Sunday, a national memorial in an 90,000-capacity soccer stadium in Johannesburg on Tuesday and a three-day period for Mandela’s body to lie in state at the Union Buildings in Pretoria on Wednesday.

After that Mandela will be laid to rest in his native place, the village of Qunu, Eastern Cape Province on Dec. 15

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