AbaThembu royals tell Mandela family to keep calm over estate

The AbaThembu royal family has urged the Mandela family to keep calm when the estate of former president Nelson Mandela is discussed.

"We understand that there is a process for the allocation of the estate," said royal family spokesperson Daludumo Mtirara on Sunday.

"We advised the family members to remain calm, respect the administration of the estate and ensure that all the assets remain where they are until processes are finalised."

Mtirara said this call was made during a meeting between the AbaThembu royal family and the elders of the Mandela house in Qunu, Eastern Cape, on Friday.

The members of the royal family shared their concern about instability in the Mandela house, he said.

Mtirara said it was reiterated at the meeting – to which Mandela's grandsons, Mandla and Ndaba were invited – that Mandla, who is the eldest grandson, was to be considered the head of the family.

"Nkosi Zwelivelile Mandla Mandela is the only point of entry to the Mandela house and he remains the head of this house … In his absence, Zweliyajika Ndaba Mandela must take over," said Mtirara.

Renewed feud
Reports emerged that the family was fighting over Mandela's estate and wanted to evict Mandela's widow Graça​ Machel from the house she and Mandela shared.

Shortly after Mandela's death, his ex-wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela described reports of a renewed family feud as "mischievous innuendos" and "apartheid-style" tactics.

She released a controversial statement at the time through her spokesperson, Thato Mmereki, saying that in accordance with tradition, eldest daughter Makaziwe Mandela would head the family and make decisions with the support of her two sisters.

It was reported that Makaziwe ordered the locks at the family homestead in Qunu changed just days after Madiba died, and that Mandla be locked out.

Leadership spat
Mandla and Makaziwe have been involved in a bitter public spat over the control of Mandela's legacy and leadership of the fractured family.

Mtirara said last week that the world icon had pronounced to the Thembu nation six years ago that Mandla was the head of the family and a traditional spear was handed over to him.

He said on Sunday that it was decided at the meeting that Madikizela-Mandela did not have a mandate from the elders or the authority to discuss "our culture, custom and tradition in the media".

No firm evidence could be found that proved Machel was ill-treated by the family, Mtirara said. "She must be respected by each and every family member as she is the only wife of Madiba who supported him until the last moment."

He said Machel was to be informed of anything happening in Mvezo, Qunu and Houghton.

Ribbonless
Mandla and Ndaba were not wearing traditional mourning ribbons, known as amaqhosha, at the meeting, Mtirara said. And we became aware that "there are also other members of the families who do not have them".

It emerged that the family member tasked with making and distributing the ribbons had not given them to all family members.

"It is unacceptable and against our tradition to witness the isolation of the core of the Mandela family and other members of the family," Mtirara said.

It was ordered that all family members be issued with ribbons by January 4.

Mandela died at his Houghton home on December 5 and was buried 10 days later in Qunu, the rural area in which he spent most of his boyhood. – Sapa

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