Maybe it’s time God took him, says Mandela’s neighbour

2013-06-12 14:59

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Former President Nelson Mandela’s neighbour and family relative, Nonkumbulo Mandela (47), says she has been inundated with calls from foreign media houses and visitors wanting to secure space in her 13-roomed Bankot Guesthouse.

The guesthouse is situated about 500m from Mandela’s Qunu residence, in which the elderly statesman lived before he was rushed to hospital in December last year.

Mandela, the first democratically elected president of South Africa, spent his fifth day in hospital in what the presidency has described as a “serious but stable” condition.

Nonkumbulo said the demand was so great that five of the 13 rooms were secured as far back as 2010, by an international news agency, which she refused to name.

Normally, a room is charged R200 per night, but the media house paid R15 000 upfront to secure it.

Nonkumbulo, who said her grandfather and Madiba’s father were brothers, said as a family they did not want to lose Madiba but also hated to see him suffer in pain and agony at such an old age.

“Yes, we would like to see him get more years to live. But at the same time, I think we are being unfair to him. He is old and frail and seems to be in pain, getting in and out of hospital. Maybe it is time God took him. Or should I say the will of God must be done,” Nonkumbulo said.

She said Madiba was well respected in Qunu and loved by many, young and old.

Inside Madiba’s Qunu residence, a freshly dug surface could be seen where it is believed Madiba would be buried once he passes on.

Both local and international media camped outside the residence and walked around the little village, which is about 40km away from Mthatha.

At the Nelson Mandela Museum, approximately 2km from the Qunu residence, there was no activity on this morning.

Inside the village, residents were preparing for a funeral of Madiba’s relative, Nondlela Mandela (96), who died last week after a long illness.

She will be buried in Qunu at the Mandela family gravesite close to the Mandela residence.

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