Exhumation of Mandela family remains okayed

2013-06-27 09:38
Nelson Mandela's home in Qunu in the Eastern Cape. (File, AFP)

Nelson Mandela's home in Qunu in the Eastern Cape. (File, AFP)

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Qunu - The chief of Qunu village, Nkosikazi Nokwanele Balizulu, has confirmed she has granted permission to the Mandela family to exhume the remains of former president Nelson Mandela’s children, Makgatho, Thembekile and Makaziwe, from Mvezo to be reburied in Qunu.

In an exclusive interview with City Press, Balizulu said Madiba’s daughter, Makaziwe, approached her on Tuesday to ask for permission to exhume the three bodies from Mvezo and to rebury them in Qunu, from where they had been moved by Mandla Mandela.

Mandla, the oldest grandson of the former president, could not be reached for comment as his phone rang unanswered.

Balizulu said she was called by Makaziwe who asked her for permission to get two letters, one to exhume the remains from Mvezo and the other to rebury them in Qunu.

“Though I don’t know when this will happen, but they have made a request and I have agreed to it. I gave the letters to a funeral parlour they had appointed as per their instructions,” Balizulu said.

‘Remains should be brought back’

The name of the funeral parlour is known to City Press.

“I agreed that the remains should be brought back. I don’t have a problem with that, if anything I had a problem with how they were dug out so disrespectfully,” she said.

The remains of Makgatho and his siblings were allegedly dug up by Mandla in 2011 without consulting the rest of the Mandela family.

He reburied them in Mvezo, where he is also a chief and where his internationally respected grandfather was born.

She said Mandla had not sought such a letter or permission.

“He just went to the gravesite and dug up the remains. People in the village even refused to be part of the process because it had been done in such an undignified manner,” she said.

‘Madiba has close ties to Qunu’

Balizulu, who has been a chief in Qunu since 1996, said the Mandela family wanted the remains of their loved ones returned to “where they belong.”

“Tata Madiba has very close ties to Qunu. He wanted his children to be buried in Qunu where he will also be buried. Mandla never consulted anybody or followed the correct traditional processes when he exhumed those bodies. Madiba never said he wanted another gravesite in Mvezo.

“This has not only created tensions in the Mandela family, but it has also displeased Madiba and has invoked the wrath of the ancestors. The family is aware of this, hence the meeting on Tuesday,” she said.

She said although she was not part of the meeting on Tuesday, she knew it was called to discuss the matter of exhuming the bodies and for briefing the elders about Madiba’s condition, which has deteriorated.

20th day in hospital for Mandela

On Tuesday, following the confidential family meeting, elders - men only - visited the family gravesite in Qunu, about 500m from Mandela’s house.

The purpose of the visit to the gravesite, according to a source, was to appeal to the ancestors to spare Mandela from his pain and suffering.

Madiba’s parents, his mother, Nosekeni, and father, Mphakanyiswa, are buried in the family gravesite in Qunu.

City Press visited the gravesite on Wednesday and saw the two graves, standing prominently in the freshly cleaned site.

Madiba is spending his 20th day in hospital on Thursday.

“We know that he will die at some point, we just don’t see our lives without him. He is such an inspiration and great unifier,” Balizulu said.
Read more on:    nelson mandela  |  mandla mandela  |  east london

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