Macabre Mandela feud: Rebury bodies, court says
Makaziwe Mandela, daughter of former South African president Nelson Mandela, sits in court in Mthatha, South Africa, Tuesday, July 2, 2013. As Nelson Mandela remains hospitalized in critical condition, the 94-year-old's oldest daughter, Makaziwe, and 15 other family members have pressed a court application to get Mandela's grandson, Mandla Mandela, to return the bodies of three of Mandela's children to their original graves in the eastern rural village of Qunu. (AP Photo/Schalk van Zuydam)
Nelson Mandela's granddaughter Zaziwe Diamini Manaway, right, arrives with other relatives at the Mediclinic Heart Hospital where former South African President Nelson Mandela is being treated in Pretoria, South Africa, Wednesday, July 3, 2013. Former president Nelson Mandela remained in a critical condition on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
School children read get well wishes and messages outside Nelson Mandela's house in Johannesburg, South Africa,Wednesday, July, 3, 2013.Mandela remains in a critical condition in a hospital in Pretoria. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)
A member of Saint Anthony Of Paudua Prayer group from Pretoria holds a candle at the Mediclinic Heart Hospital where former South African President Nelson Mandela is being treated in Pretoria, South Africa, Wednesday, July 3, 2013. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
FILE - In this Dec. 7, 2005 file photo, former South African President Nelson Mandela, 87, is in a jovial mood at the Mandela Foundation in Johannesburg. The emotional pain and practical demands facing Nelson Mandela's family are universal: confronting the final days of an elderly loved one. There are no rules for how or when the end may arrive. Mandela's status as a respected global figure only complicates the situation, doctors and end-of-life experts say.(AP Photo/Denis Farrell, File)
In a macabre family feud fought as Nelson Mandela remained in critical condition, a South African court ruled yesterday that the former president’s grandson must return the bodies of the 94-year-old’s three deceased children to their original burial site.
Mandela is in “perilous” condition and on life support, according to an affidavit filed Friday and made public in the ruling yesterday, according to a South African newspaper.
The judge’s order means that grandson Mandla Mandela must reverse the action he took in 2011, when he moved the bodies from Mandela’s hometown in Qunu to his birthplace of Mvezo, about 15 miles away. Mandla Mandela has authority in Mvezo as a tribal chief and has plans to create a Mandela shrine, hotel and soccer stadium there.
The case has sparked a wide discussion about family relations and inheritance.
Mandela, who was imprisoned for 27 years, remained in critical condition in the hospital yesterday. He was admitted June 8 with a lung infection.
South Africa’s anti-apartheid hero said he wanted to be buried in Qunu and attended the burial of his son at the family plot there in 2005.
“It’s an issue of greed, and everyone needs to be quite clear about that,” said Charlene Smith, the author of three books on the former president, including Mandela: In Celebration of a Great Life.
“Although he’s been able to bring reconciliation to South Africa, he has this warring family,” Smith said of Mandela. “He hasn’t been able to bring peace at home.”
The family divisions became public this week when 15 Mandela family members, including wife Graca Machel, pressed a court case to order Mandla Mandela to return the bodies to Qunu. The judge ordered the bodies to be reburied yesterday afternoon, and a hearse entered the Mvezo compound shortly after the verdict.
The Mail and Guardian newspaper obtained the affidavit that said Mandela’s health is “perilous” and that a life support machine is helping him breathe.
The court filing said the family members want to bury Mandela in earth “in which his descendant’s remains lie.”
The affidavit filed by daughter Makaziwe Mandela shows the family believes Mandla Mandela is trying to force the burial of Mandela in Mvezo for financial gain.
Mandla Mandela said in a statement yesterday that he is not against the repatriation of the bodies and will abide by the court decision. But his legal team contends that the graves cannot be exhumed until an appeal to rescind the order is heard.
The case pitted the Mandela family members against Mandla Mandela, who argued that as the family’s eldest male he is entitled to move the graves. Upping the ante in the feud, a Mandela family member pressed criminal charges Tuesday against Mandla for tampering with a grave.
The graves are those of Makgatho Mandela, who died in 2005 and is Mandla Mandela’s father; Mandela’s first daughter Makaziwe Mandela, who died as an infant in 1948; and Mandela’s second son Madiba Thembekile Mandela, who died in a car accident in 1969.