Mandela grave spat set for court

Mthatha - A legal spat between former president Nelson Mandela's eldest grandson Mandla and members of the family over a grave site is set to resume in the Eastern Cape High Court in Mthatha on Monday.

Mandla Mandela, who is the official head of the Madiba clan and an ANC Member of Parliament, had the remains of three family members exhumed from Mandela's home in Qunu and re-buried in his home village of Mvezo two years ago.

On Friday, 16 members of the Mandela family, led by Mandela's eldest daughter Makaziwe, 60, were granted an order by the high court for Mandla Mandela to return the remains to Qunu.

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

Former president Mandela, who is in a critical condition in a Pretoria hospital, has said he wants to be buried in Qunu alongside his family.

Mandla Mandela, who was named the chief of Mvezo after the death of Makgatho Mandela in 2005, is due to respond to the order in court on Monday.

He claims that Mvezo, where he is building a multi-million rand hotel, is the birthplace of the Mandelas and holds historic significance.

‘Mandla stormed out of meeting’

A Mandela family member told Sapa that when the matter was raised at a family meeting in Qunu last week, Mandla Mandela refused to answer why he moved the graves without consulting the family and stormed out of the meeting.

"When Mandla was ordered to bring back the remains, he stormed out," the family member said.

Mandla Mandela was taken to court by a community member last year for digging up community graves to build the hotel. The case is still to be heard in court.

A member of the Mandela family told the Dispatch newspaper on Monday that Mandla Mandela would be "on his way down and out of the family" when Nelson Mandela died.

"He stole the remains of Madiba’s children from Qunu to Mvezo in 2011 because he knew that he [Nelson Mandela] would want to be buried with [his] children, and that would be his diamond field," the family member told the newspaper.

Mandla Mandela said in a statement on Sunday he was "regrettably compelled" to go to court and respond to the action.

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

The case had not yet resumed by Monday afternoon.
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