Family in 'baffling' row over burial site as Mandela clings to life Nelson Mandela: gravely ill
Published 01/07/2013 | 05:00
A LEGAL battle that affects where Nelson Mandela will be buried is "disappointing", "baffling" and "contrary to our customs", the former South African president's grandson has said.
Mandla Mandela's criticisms were the latest attack in a family feud that appears to be worsening as Mr Mandela (94) lies gravely ill in a Pretoria hospital.
Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, his former wife, said there were no family discussions on switching off his life support, which includes a ventilator for him to breathe.
"What is happening is God's wish," she said. She spoke after 16 of her former husband's relatives won a court directive ordering the return of remains of three of Mr Mandela's children to Qunu, where the anti-apartheid activist lived as a boy.
Mr Mandela previously said that he wanted his grave to be alongside two of his sons, who died in 1969 and 2005, and a daughter who died as an infant in 1948, and who had been buried in Qunu.
But Mandla (39) ordered the bodies to be exhumed two years ago without the family's approval and they were taken to Mvezo, the village where Mr Mandela was born and where Mandla is chief. The remains are understood to be in simple graves on the compound of a cultural centre and museum built by Mandla in Mvezo, about 20 miles south-west of Qunu. This appears to have been an attempt to put pressure on the family to agree to move the elder statesman's eventual grave site to Mvezo, which would then become a lucrative tourist pilgrimage site.
Mandla, whose father was Mr Mandela's second son, is expected to go to court today in Mthatha, the nearest town to Qunu, to oppose the order.
"The way we are handling these matters is contrary to our customs and a deep disappointment to my grandfather and his ancestors," he said in a statement.
He repeated remarks he has made before, that "we as a family should avoid actions and decisions that will infringe on the dignity of my grandfather."
The family has been involved in earlier legal battles over how to manage Mr Mandela's legacy, which Mandla said at the time were "a clear squabble over (my) grandfather's monies".
A chief of the Thembu people of South Africa's Eastern Cape claimed that the remains must be returned to Qunu.
"The ancestors will only be appeased once the remains of the Mandela family are reburied at Qunu. Only then will Tata be released." (© Daily Telegraph, London)