Mandla goes back to court

2013-07-18 00:00

AS former president Nelson Mandela turns 95 today, his grandson Mandla will be turning to the Mthatha high court for the second time to challenge an order authorising the exhumation of the remains of his relatives.

This comes after his initial court challenge was described as “frivolous”, when 15 Mandela family members won an interdict two weeks ago that compelled Mandla to return the remains of Mandela’s children — Makgatho, Thembekile and Makaziwe — for reburial in Qunu.

The family had said in court papers that they sought the reprieve to fulfil Mandela’s wish to be buried next to his children in Qunu, after Mandla had reneged on a promise to return the remains. The relatives’ remains were exhumed in Qunu two years ago and then reburied at Mvezo Great Place, where Mandla resides.

But after Judge Lusindiso Pakade granted the interdict the remains were exhumed within an hour in Mvezo and reburied the following day, after DNA tests were conducted.

Yesterday, Mandla’s spokesperson Freddy Pilusa confirmed that Mandla’s legal team would be in the Mthatha high court to argue for the rescission of the court order, after court papers were filed earlier this week. Mthatha high court registrar S. Qalani confirmed that Mandla lodged an application to rescind the court order.

Qalani said the application was opposed by the family lawyers, who have already filed a notice to oppose it at today’s hearing.

Wesley Hayes, the family lawyer, could not be reached for comment yesterday afternoon, as his cellphone was not answered and he did not respond to text messages.

Pilusa said Mandla would not attend the court proceedings because he would be in Mvezo as part of the Mandela Day activities.

“He won’t attend court because there will be the opening of a clinic, a high school and an early childhood development centre in Mvezo,” he said.

Mandla previously alleged that the court order that allowed exhumation of the remains was obtained by misleading the court. At issue was a certificate of urgency filed with the court, which claimed Mandela was in a “vegetative state”.

But Hayes has previously dismissed the assertion that the court was misled in granting the interdict, saying the certificate of urgency was not evidence to court, but was filed as part of court practice.

Pilusa previously told The Witness that the court action was not about exhuming the remains in Qunu, but was based on the implications of the interdict and the criminal charge laid against Mandla at Bityi police station.

The National Prosecuting Authority sent the docket back to the police for more investigation before it decides whether to prosecute Mandla after his family opened a case relating to the violation of graves.

• mayibongwe.maqhina@witness.co.za

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