Grave diggers worked magic on Winnie burial site

Grave diggers and cemetery attendants worked hard for several days to make the final resting place of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela the best it could be.
Grave diggers and cemetery attendants worked hard for several days to make the final resting place of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela the best it could be.
Image: Neo Goba

For grave digger *Wiseman who spent six days with his colleagues preparing Winnie Madikizela-Mandela's grave at the Fourways Memorial Park, the job was by far his most difficult.

"I have not rested well this week. We had to make sure that everything is in order as a prominent person was going to be buried at this cemetery and we were briefed that the world would be watching the funeral," said the elderly man.

"We understand why we have to work this hard.

"Winnie was the wife of uTata [Nelson Mandela] and everybody loved him so we cannot afford to have guests walking through the gravesite pathways and getting hooked by trees," he chuckled.

At the private cemetery, four marquees in different sizes were set up in and around the grave site.

Minutes before the arrival of the late Struggle icon's body, rain soaked the artificial grass.

As the pastors read out burial sermons, the Kupane Funeral Services groundsmen, clad in black suits and white gloves, performed a pre-burial ritual and then handed over a golden spade to the pall bearers.

After the casket was lowered into the ground, President Cyril Ramaphosa, as the chief mourner, was asked by a pastor to fill the grave with sand.

He was followed by family and other dignitaries who attended the internment after a drive from the Orlando Stadium.

The Mother of the Nation was finally in her resting place sandwiched between her great grandchildren, Zenawe and Zenani Mandela.

*Not his real name

There were tears, songs and fiery speeches as the nation bid farewell to Winnie Madikizela-Mandela who was laid to rest in Johannesburg on April 14 2018.

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