Mandela family feud aired in court
The remains of Nelson Mandela’s three children have been dug up after his family won a court battle to have them moved on Wednesday.
Authorities said three bodies were found in unmarked graves on the compound belonging to his eldest grandson, Mandla Mandela, and were later taken in separate hearses to a mortuary.
They were those of Mandela’s eldest son and father of Mandla Mandela, Makgatho Mandela, who died in 2005, Mandela’s first daughter Makaziwe Mandela, who died as an infant in 1948 and Mandela’s second son Madiba Thembekile, who died in a car accident in 1969.
Mandla had earlier lost his appeal against having the bodies of his father and two other children returned to the former president’s childhood village of Qunu in 2011.
Yesterday, he was accused by other family members of removing the bodies “in the dead of night.” The relatives argued that Mandla moved the bodies in order to establish a family cemetery at the development, which could eventually include the grave of ailing Nelson Mandela.
Mandla Mandela was not present in the court to observe the proceedings, but his spokesperson said: “ Mandla will abide by the court decisions and that he has never been against the repatriation of these remains at any point.”
“Criminal charges of tampering with a grave” have been pressed against Mandla over the exhumation of the bodies, said the police.
The court has issued an order calling for the bodies to be returned to the former president’s ancestral village of Qunu, where his parents are buried and where Nelson too wishes to be laid down next to his children.
An affidavit filed in the court by Nelson Mandela’s eldest daughter, Makaziwe Mandela, read: “Mr Mandela’s health is perilous and he’s on a life support machine, and the applicants are desirous of burying their father and committing him to the earth in which his descendants’ remains lie.”