South African Police Prepare For Mandela Ceremony
A police spokesman in South Africa says that "thousands" of police officers will be on hand for a ceremony honoring Nelson Mandela in a Soweto soccer stadium.
Lt. Gen. Solomon Makgale said Monday officers would "make sure people are able to grieve in a safe environment." Makgale said South African police, diplomats and intelligence services had been in touch with foreign delegations to protect visiting heads of state, including U.S. President Barack Obama.
More than 80,000 mourners are expected to attend the memorial Tuesday for the anti-apartheid hero at a stadium in the Soweto township where Mandela made his last public appearance at the closing ceremony of the 2010 soccer World Cup. Officials say they'll block access if too many people come to the stadium. Overflow sites are planned.
President Barack Obama will pay tribute this week to Nelson Mandela, making the long trip from Washington to South Africa Monday to attend a national memorial service for the anti-apartheid icon.
Tuesday's memorial service will also serve as a rare reunion of nearly all of the living American presidents. George W. Bush and his wife, Laura, will accompany Obama and first lady Michelle Obama on Air Force One. Former Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter will travel separately to South Africa.
George H.W. Bush is the only living president who will not attend. His spokesman said the 89-year-old is no longer able to travel long distances.