Mandela remains exhumed, convoy heads for Qunu

2013-07-03 19:07

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A convoy of hearses containing the remains of three of former president Nelson Mandela’s children has left the Mvezo Great Place, to rebury the remains in Qunu.

There was drama at Mvezo this afternoon as a Mthatha sheriff, assisted by police, had to break a padlock at the gate in order to gain access to dig up the remains.

“All three’s remains have been found and have been put into the different hearses,” Lieutenant Colonel Mzukisi Fatyela told Sapa.

“They were found in the same area but they (the graves) were unmarked.”

He said the remains were being taken to a mortuary.

The remains were buried by Madiba’s grandson, Mandla Mandela, in 2011 after he had removed them from the family graveyard in Qunu.

The gates were locked shortly before deputy sheriff, Humphrey Ntsikeni, police and the family arrived at Mvezo to exhume the remains of three of Madiba’s late children – his sons Makgatho and Thembekile and daughter Makaziwe, who had died as a baby.

Madiba’s eldest daughter, also Makaziwe – who spearheaded the court action against Mandla – was seen leaving Mvezo as part of the convoy, which was headed for Qunu.

At the same time, the Mthatha High Court dismissed an urgent application by Mandla to rescind the earlier judgment by Judge Lusindiso Pakade, according to which the remains should be returned today.

Pakade also instructed Ntsikeni to go to Mvezo with the relevant authorities and exhume the remains of Madiba’s children if Mandla failed to return them by 3pm.

At 3.45pm the deputy sheriff, police, the Titi funeral parlour and Mandela family members Makaziwe, Ndileka and Ndaba (Mandla’s half-brother), were at the gates but could not get in as they were locked.

After a short discussion between police, Makaziwe and her lawyer, Wesley Hayes, a decision was taken that the sheriff should force his way inside.

Mandla’s security guards, who were spotted at the gates earlier, were not in sight.

The sheriff used a pick-axe to break the padlock and the gates were opened.

» This story was updated after first published to add the police's comment.

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