Mandela family members arrive in Eastern Cape, negotiations on cards

2013-07-01 00:00

Three Mandela family members arrived at the Mthatha Airport this morning amid reports that a third party may be called in to negotiate a "ceasefire" between the Mandela family and Mandla Mandela.

Former president Nelson Mandela's daughter, Makaziwe, and grandchildren Ndaba and Ndileka, landed at the airport later than expected today after their flight was delayed because of bad weather.

They were expected to meet with their lawyers after Mandla had indicated that he would oppose an interdict granted by the Mthatha High Court on Friday.

The interim order, obtained by 16 family members, interdicts Mandla from preventing the reburial in Qunu of the remains of three of Nelson Mandela's children - Makgatho, Thembekile and Makaziwe.

In 2011, Mandla dug up and removed the remains from Qunu and reburied them in Mvezo, Madiba's birthplace, where grandson Mandla is also a chief.

Earlier, a source told City Press someone close to the family was headed for Qunu to try and negotiate a "ceasefire" but their trip to the Eastern Cape was cancelled.

Today, Mandla's attorney, Advocate Matthew Mpahlwa, confirmed to City Press that Mandla would be filing a motion to oppose Friday's court order.

The case is being heard in chambers.

It is understood that Madiba has said, on several occasions, that he wanted to be buried next to his children.

Mandla, who had initially said he would not oppose the matter, made an about-turn on Saturday after consulting with his lawyers, in a marathon meeting that lasted four-and-a-half hours.

"After meeting with my client (Mandla) and the chiefs of the Madiba clan, a decision was taken to file a motion to oppose on the basis that the applicants do not have the right to remove the bones. And based on the fact that the remains are in the right place in Mvezo," Mpahlwa said.

City Press saw Mandla driving into the Qunu residence, followed by his lawyer's car, on Saturday afternoon.

The meeting was diverted from the Nelson Mandela Museum in Qunu to Madiba's house to avoid media attention.

Yesterday, Mandla released a statement, saying he was "sad and disappointed that yet again some members of the family have chosen the courts to resolve intricate family matters".

He said he had been "regrettably compelled" to go to court and respond to the actions taken against him by his family.

Madiba's grandson said his ailing grandfather, who is spending his fourth week in hospital because of a recurring lung infection, is disappointed by the family squabbles.

"The way we are handling this matter is contrary to our customs, and a deep disappointment to my grandfather and his ancestors," Mandla said.

Meanwhile, in another statement released last night by Thanduxolo Mtirara, the acting chairperson for the royal family and senior member of the royal house for the kingdom of AbaThembu, said they were "deeply concerned" about the Mandela dispute.

He said a mediation meeting would be called for July 8, to be attended by the Madiba clan, in order to try and find a "common solution to the issues at hand".

"Nkosi Dalibhunga (Nelson Mandela) is a rare human being hence his family is important to all of us. If we fail to resolve these matters, we risk the world looking upon our culture, values and beliefs with disrespect, and this, we should not allow," said Mtirara.

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