Pretoria: Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe is to attend the state funeral of the late Ghanaian President John Atta Mills on Friday, where he will represent the South African government.
Mills died on 24 July just five months before he was due to stand for re-election in December. Prior to his death the 68-year-old had complained of pains and was rushed to hospital the next day.
This week, thousands of Ghanaians were able to pay their last respects to the President at the State Banquet Hall where the body had been placed for public viewing. Dressed in a black suit, his body lay in a closed-glass casket in a garden of flowers in the national colours.
The body will on Friday be moved to the 50 000-capacity Independence Square for the final funeral rites.
The funeral is expected to be attended by more than ten heads of state and other high state officials. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan are among the dignitaries.
President Jacob Zuma has wished the people of Ghana strength and blessings for today and once again extended his deepest condolences to the Government and people of the Republic of Ghana.
“We continue to keep the family of President Atta Mills and the people of Ghana in our hearts as they prepare to lay to rest this gallant leader who inspired his people and the rest of Africa with his visionary leadership,” said Zuma.
The Ghanaian President had visited South Africa on a state visit in August 2011.
“We agreed on so many points aimed at strengthening relations between our two countries. We salute him for all his work on the continent of Africa and are truly saddened to lose him,” said Zuma.
The President also lamented the fact that this was the second head of state in the African continent to pass on in one year. His Excellency Bingu wa Mutharika, the President of the Republic of Malawi passed on early this year.
The High Commission of the Republic of Ghana will also hold a memorial service at the Central Baptist Church in Pretoria today.