Pretoria, June 26 (IANS) While former South African president Nelson Mandela is still fighting for his life in a hospital here, his family is squabbling over his final resting place.
The family is reportedly divided between his grandson Mandla Mandela, who wants the anti-apartheid icon buried at his birthplace in Mvezo village, and the rest of the family who want to respect his wish to be buried next to his children, The Star newspaper of South Africa reported Wednesday citing three sources.
Mandla is the head of the Mvezo Traditional Council.
The controversy arose as Mandla had exhumed the bodies of his father Makgatho, uncle Thembekile and aunt Makaziwe from the family grave at Mandela’s homestead in Qunu and reburied them at his birthplace Mvezo in 2011.
Makgatho died in 2005 due to a AIDS-related illness, Makaziwe had died in 1948 when she was just nine months old, and Thembekile was killed in a car accident in 1969.
All three were children from Mandela’s first wife, Evelyn.
According to the report, the family had gathered at the Qunu homestead Tuesday for an “ibhunga” or a meeting to discuss an important family matter.
Among those who attended the meeting were Mandela’s another daughter from Evelyn, also named Makaziwe, his daughter from second wife Winnie, Zenani, Mandla and his brother Ndaba.
Bantu Holomisa, leader of the United Democratic Movement, Lindwe Sisulu, South Africa’s minister for public service and administration, and chief Bhovulengwe of the abaThembu Royal Council were also present in the meeting.
Mandla reportedly stormed out of the meeting as the family members sought that the bodies of Makgatho, Makaziwe and Thembekile be moved back to their original burial sites in Qunu.
“This is making it impossible for Mandela to be buried next to his children because they are buried in Mvezo. Mandela is going to be buried in Qunu. Mandla did this without consulting the elders,” The Star report quoted one of the sources as saying.
When the newspaper called Mandla on his phone, he did not answer it, Holonisa refused to divulge what happened in the meeting and instead suggested that Makaziwe be contacted as she had called the meeting, and Makaziwe, on her part, said she doesn’t “talk to The Star”.
Tuesday’s family meeting lasted from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.