Mandela’s family hold meeting at Qunu home

2013-06-26 00:00

TWO hours after a meeting of Mandela family members ended in Qunu yesterday, a tractor loader backhoe (TLB) was parked near the gravesite where the former president is expected to be buried.

As the world prepared to say a final goodbye to the 94-year-old Madiba, who remained critical in hospital yesterday, there was increased activity at several key places.

These included Qunu, the MediClinic Heart Hospital in Pretoria and Mandela’s old home in Vilakazi Street, Soweto.

In the Transkei, a delegation of Mandela family representatives, traditional leaders and national government leaders met from 11 am until 1 pm at his Qunu home, before returning to Mthatha.

The convoy of more than a dozen government vehicles, included among others Public Service Minister Lindiwe Sisulu and UDM leader Bantu Holomisa, who is close to Madiba. Six chiefs from Qunu met the officials at Mandela’s home.

After the meeting, Madiba’s grandson Ndaba Mandela inspected the gravesite, which is surrounded by tall aloes that block the view to the grave. The TLB arrived at about 2 pm on a low-bed trailer and was parked 150 metres from the gravesite.

Chief Mfundo Mtirara, a senior leader of the Madiba clan, said the meeting was about “very sensitive issues” and the agenda was meant only for family.

In Pretoria, police last night cordoned off the hospital where Mandela is being treated, as members of the public continued to arrive with cards and good wishes.

Graça Machel is reportedly constantly at her husband’s side. His former wife, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, also visited earlier yesterday, as well as the Anglican archbishop of Cape Town, Thabo Mokgoba.

The head of the army, General Solly Shoke, and Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula were also seen at the hospital.

In Vilakazi Street, scaffolding was yesterday erected in front of Mandela’s former home. People sang songs about Mandela in which they said goodbye.

“We are selfish. We want him with us and for him to live forever. I know, however, it is his time to go,” said Munroe Leburu, who lives two streets from the museum.

He had brought his son, Paleyanrona (7) to the house to learn about Madiba.

The presidency yesterday repeated that Mandela’s condition, which has been described as “critical”, had not changed.

President Jacob Zuma again thanked South Africans for their prayers and asked that people demonstrate their love and appreciation for Mandela by “living out his legacy and promoting unity, non-racialism, non-sexism and prosperity in our country”, said Zuma.

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