Mandela family remains exhumed for reburial

The Mandela family graveyard in Qunu. (Delwyn Verasamy, M&G)

The Mandela family graveyard in Qunu. (Delwyn Verasamy, M&G)

The remains of three of former president Nelson Mandela's children who were buried in Mvezo were found on Wednesday evening, Eastern Cape police said.

"All three's remains have been found and have been put into the different hearses," Lieutenant Colonel Mzukisi Fatyela said.

"They were found in the same area but they were unmarked."

He said the remains were being taken to a mortuary. It was not clear when they would be reburied in Qunu.

Meanwhile, Mandla Mandela lost his attempt on Wednesday to rescind a court decision compelling him to move the remains of his grandfather's children from Mvezo to Qunu.

The Eastern Cape High Court had dismissed his application as "frivolous", said counsel for Mandla Mandela – who is former president Nelson Mandela's grandson.

The court upheld a court order made last week compelling Mandla Mandela to return the remains of Mandela's children to Qunu.

He exhumed and moved the graves from Qunu to Mvezo, where he holds the chieftainship, in 2011.

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

A group of Mandela family members approached the court to have the bodies exhumed and moved back to the family graveyard in Qunu.

In an affidavit, the family members said the apartheid struggle icon's health was "perilous", and that his physician would provide the court with a statement that he was "breathing by a life support machine".

"The anticipation of his impending death is based on real and substantial grounds," Mandela's eldest daughter Makaziwe Mandela and the other family members said in the statement.

The papers were filed on Friday, but were made available in court only on Wednesday.

"The applicants wish to commit Mr Nelson Mandela's body to the ground when his descendants' bones are already interred in the ground, and will lie alongside them," they said.

"They do not want the full-blown, opposed motion to be heard while they wait to bury their father and grandfather."

Wish to be buried in Qunu
Mandela remained critically ill on Wednesday in a Pretoria hospital, where he is being treated for a recurring lung infection. He was admitted on June 8.

Mandela has reportedly expressed the wish to be buried in Qunu, where he grew up. Mandela was born in Mvezo.
– Sapa

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