‘Grave tampering’ case against Mandla Mandela

2013-07-03 00:00

MANDLA Mandela’s woes piled up yesterday when his family opened a criminal case of tampering with the graves of his relatives two years ago.

Eastern Cape police spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Mzukisi Fatyela confirmed last night that the Mandela family opened a case against Mandla at the Bityi police station near Mthatha.

However, he declined to say who exactly opened the case.

He said police are investigating and that Mandla has not been ­arrested.

“Once the investigations are completed, a docket will be sent to the senior public prosecutor for a decision on whether to prosecute or not,” Fatyela said.

Mandla will know this afternoon whether he must comply with a court order to return the remains of three children — Makgatho, Thembekile and Makaziwe — of former president Nelson Mandela, who were reburied at Mvezo.

The Mthatha High Court reserved judgment yesterday, after it granted an interim order on Friday to 15 family members that required Mandla not to prevent the return of the remains to Qunu.

Mandla decided to oppose the order on Monday, claiming he had not been afforded an opportunity to be heard. He failed to receive the summons in the case.

Adjourning proceedings yesterday, Judge Lusindiso Pakade ordered the legal representatives for Mandla and his family to file heads of argument this morning.

He earlier agreed to hear the case in open court, after a request by the SA Editors’ Forum. It was previously described as “too sensitive”.

Lawyers addressed three issues at yesterday’s hearing.

Firstly, the court order had to be amended because it incorrectly showed July 29, rather than June 29, as the date by which Mandla was ordered to comply.

The date on the interim interdict was altered to reflect 3 pm today, almost the same time judgment is expected to be delivered.

Secondly, the court was asked to strike out paragraphs in Mandla’s affidavit. Advocate David Smith, for the family, listed a number of paragraphs he described as being “vexatious, irrelevant and scandalous”. He argued that the affidavit made few legal arguments and did not respond to allegations levelled against Mandla.

However, Mandla’s counsel Phillip Zilwa said there was nothing vexatious, irrelevant and scandalous in the affidavit, arguing that the paragraphs “lay a background”.

In the third point, Zilwa argued that no notice or summons were served on Mandla, making the order invalid.

The court had been previously told that the summons was affixed at the main entrance after the sheriff found the gates locked and made his presence known by hooting outside on Thursday at 10 pm.

Zilwa also pointed out other flaws in the application, such as lack of addresses for other respondents and no explanation on why the Health MEC was cited as a respondent.

Smith said the Health MEC was included because he was in charge of exhumations. He said Mandla did not challenge the allegation that he had removed the remains.

Present in court yesterday were Mandela’s oldest daughter, Makaziwe, and grandchildren, Ndileka and Ndaba. Mandla was absent.

• The case involves 15 applicants, although it refers to 16. Number 13 was skipped by an apparently superstitious lawyer.

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