Mandela children's remains to be tested

2013-07-03 21:54
(Michael Kimberley, via Twitter)

(Michael Kimberley, via Twitter)

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Johannesburg - The remains of three of former president Nelson Mandela's children will undergo forensic tests before being taken to Qunu on Thursday, Eastern Cape police said on Wednesday.

"The bodies remain at a mortuary in Mthatha," Lieutenant Colonel Mzukisi Fatyela said on Wednesday night.

They would be taken for forensic testing after 09:00 on Thursday, and would only then be transported to Qunu for reburial, he said.

Mandela's grandson Mandla Mandela had the bodies exhumed and moved to Mvezo in 2011.

He claimed that Mvezo, where he was building a multi-million rand hotel, was the birthplace of the Mandelas and held historic significance.

The graves are those of Mandela's eldest son Madiba Thembekile, who died in a car accident in 1969; Mandla Mandela's father Makgatho Mandela, who died in 2005; and Mandela's first daughter Makaziwe Mandela, who died as an infant in 1948.

According to a family member, Mandla refused to answer why he had moved the graves without consulting the family and stormed out of a meeting in Qunu last week when he was ordered to return the remains.

A community member took him to court last year for digging up community graves to build the hotel. The case has yet to be heard.

However, the Eastern Cape High Court granted members of the Mandela family, led by Mandela's eldest daughter Makaziwe, an order on Friday, compelling Mandla to return the remains to Qunu.

He challenged the ruling, but lost.

Judge Lusindiso Pakade found on Wednesday that his actions were "scandalous" and "vicious" and ordered the sheriff of the court to exhume the graves in Mvezo and move them to the family farm in Qunu.

Mandla challenged this ruling too, and lost again.

A second judge found his application to have the judgment rescinded was "frivolous".

Meanwhile, the family brought criminal charges of tampering with a grave against Mandla.

"The investigation started yesterday [Tuesday] after the case was opened," said Fatyela.

He said the charge was laid by members of the Mandela family, but he would not name them.

Late on Wednesday afternoon, an official in the sheriff's office used a pickaxe to break open the gate to the Mvezo Village, allowing three hearses and police vans to enter. With them were Makaziwe Mandela and her grandson Ndaba Mandela.

Health officials started digging for the remains, and had found them by early evening.

Nelson Mandela, meanwhile, remained critically ill on Wednesday in a Pretoria hospital, where he is being treated for a recurring lung infection.

The family, in an affidavit filed in court, described his condition as "perilous".

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