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Mandela grave battle becomes a royal family affair

Sapa

The Ngubengcuku royal houses have said they would intervene in a Mandela family dispute involving the reburial of some of Nelson Mandela's relatives.

Mandla Mandela. (Gallo)

Royal family chairperson Thanduxolo Mtirara said in a statement on Sunday that AbaThembu royal house would hold a meeting with other royal houses on July 8 at the Qunu royal residence to try and resolve the matter.

Mtirara said they were deeply concerned following reports that the Mandelas had turned to the courts over the matter.

Mandla Mandela, who is the official head of the Madiba clan and an ANC member of Parliament, had the remains of three family members exhumed from Mandela's home in Qunu and reburied in his home village of Mvezo two years ago.

On Friday, 16 members of the Mandela family, led by Mandela's eldest daughter Makaziwe (60) were granted an order by the high court for Mandla Mandela to return the remains to Qunu.

The three exhumed graves are those of Mandela's eldest son and Mandla's father Makgato Mandela who died in 2005, Mandela's first daughter Makaziwe who died as an infant in 1948, and Mandela's second son Madiba Thembekile who died in a car accident in 1969.

"The royal family for the kingdom of AbaThembu ... sees it as its responsibility to intervene in the current family dispute and invite other royal houses so as to bring the necessary harmony especially during this challenging period when the patriarch of the family is ill in hospital," said Mtirara.

"This matter has to be brought to an end."

Mandela remains in a critical but stable condition at the Mediclinic Heart Hospital in Pretoria. He has been in hospital since June 8 and is being treated for a recurring lung infection.

Disappoinment
In a statement on Sunday, Mandla Mandela said the way the matter was being handled was contrary to their customs.

He expressed disappointment that his family members had chosen to turn to the courts to resolve intricate family matters.

" ... [It is] a deep disappointment to my grandfather and his ancestors," he said.

On Friday, the Mthatha Magistrates Court heard an urgent application by 16 people against Mandla Mandela.

The application was reportedly to have the remains of some of the former president's relatives moved from Mvezo to Qunu, and was also made against Eastern Cape Premier Noxolo Kiviet and provincial minister of health Sicelo Gqobana.

City Press reported that Judge Lusindiso Pakade issued an interim order on Friday afternoon interdicting Mandla Mandela from preventing the reburial and from interfering with the process, which was expected to be concluded in the next few days.

Legal costs
​Mandla Mandela was also ordered to pay the legal costs of the hearing, even though he was not there. His lawyer, advocate Matthew Mpahlwa, confirmed to the newspaper that he had decided to oppose the matter.

A motion would be filed on Monday on the basis that the remains were in the right place in Mvezo, where Mandela was born.

"It is important at all times that we as a family avoid actions and decisions that will infringe on the dignity of my grandfather," he said.

"As the nation and the world continues to send their support and prayers, the family's efforts must be geared towards caring for him and to avoid putting his name in disrepute." – Sapa

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