JOHANNESBURG – South Africa will expand Nelson Mandela’s memorial service to include at least 200,000 people, more than first planned, as ordinary citizens to heads of state clamor to pay tribute to the former president.
Three additional sports facilities, including the Ellis Park ground in Johannesburg, will screen Tuesday’s service, which will take place at the city’s FNB Stadium, host of the 2010 World Cup soccer final, the government said. Representatives from dozens of countries will attend the service, Collins Chabane, minister in the presidency, said Sunday.
South Africa is three days into a 10-day mourning period after Mandela, who brought an end to white-minority rule by becoming the first black president in 1994, died at his home in Johannesburg on Dec. 5. He was 95.
The body of Mandela, who was jailed for 27 years for fighting apartheid, will lie in state in Pretoria from Wednesday to Friday before a funeral in his hometown of Qunu in the Eastern Cape Province on Sunday.
At least 13 African presidents and heads of 15 countries outside the continent will come to South Africa to pay tribute to Mandela, according to the government. Three former U.S. leaders and four from Brazil also will attend.
“Government is doing all it can to allow as many people as possible to be part of these official events, but there are limits to how many people we can reasonably accommodate,” the presidency’s Chabane said in a statement Sunday. The four stadiums together can seat about 215,000 people.
About 9,000 mourners are expected to attend Sunday’s funeral in Qunu.