Celebrations at Mandela homestead amid spy camera claims

2011-12-15 08:27

Former president Nelson Mandela’s 20-year-old grandson, Mbuso, will be celebrating his coming of age today after a successful initiation ceremony in Qunu, amid claims that spy cameras have been set up in the village.

An umngcamo ceremony, in which a goat is slaughtered, will be held today and on Wednesday when Mbuso officially comes home with umgidi celebrations, the last phase of the Xhosa initiation ritual.

Mbuso is ANC MP and Mvezo chief Mandla Mandela’s younger brother. Their father is the elderly statesman’s second son, Makgatho, who died in 2005.

Today’s celebrations will be overshadowed by alleged spying by two international news agencies, Reuters and Associated Press (AP) television news, who have placed two cameras at Mandela’s relative, Qunu chief Nokwanele Balizulu’s homestead.

Balizulu’s home is directly opposite the Mandela homestead.

Eastern Cape police spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Mzukisi Fatyela said two cameras were removed yesterday and that police were searching for more this morning across the village.

No arrests have been made and Fatyela could not say whether anyone would be arrested.

"The cameras were allegedly sending information overseas," he said.

In January, City Press reported that Qunu residents were cashing in on global television networks and media houses that have set up base in the village in preparation for the event of Mandela’s death and funeral.

AP has a small studio in a room ­at the Balizulu homestead.

The Balizulu family initially declined AP’s offer but was persuaded by neighbours of the benefits accruing from ­allowing media houses access to the village.

The family is set to inherit the room after Mandela’s funeral.

In July, Mandla Mandela told City Press that there was nothing the family could do about the cameras.

“Only the local chief (Balizulu) can deal with this,” he said.

At the time, Mandla Mandela said his responsibility was Mvezo.

“There’s nothing I can do about what’s happening in Qunu,” he said.

However, today a traditional leader from a village neighbouring Qunu told City Press that Mandla Mandela was behind the move to remove the two cameras.

» This report has been updated since first published to add police comment.

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