Mandela Family Burial Site Saga Ends on a Dramatic Note

By Ntokozo Sindane    03-Jul-2013 21:44 UTC+02:00 1
Makaziwe Mandela led the family against her nephew Mandla in court on Wednesday when the court ruled that he should return the remains of three deceased family members back to Qunu. – image -

Makaziwe Mandela led the family against her nephew Mandla in court on Wednesday when the court ruled that he should return the remains of three deceased family members back to Qunu. – image –

On Wednesday, the Eastern Cape High Court ruled in favor of the Mandela family in a case against one of their own. Mandla Mandela was ordered to return the remains of former President Nelson Mandela’s children to their original place of burial in Qunu. Mandla had moved the remains three years ago “in the dead of night” without consulting the rest of the Mandela family and buried them in Mvezo. Mandla Mandela is the chief of the Mvezo district.

This is the second time that the same court has issued this instruction to Mandla. The first time that he was ordered to return the remains, including those of his father Makgatho, he challenged the court’s decision. Mandla’s lawyer argued that his client had not been duly informed of the interdict and subsequent ruling. The court listened to both parties and upheld its initial decision. That is when the drama unfolded.

The court’s initial command was that Mandla should return the remains of the Mandela family members by no later than 3pm on Wednesday 3 July. This is the order that was upheld today. Though the order was upheld, the decision came late in the afternoon and at 3pm; the exhumations in Mvezo had not yet started.

The Mandela family arrived to the Mvezo district in a convoy of cars and three hearses which was escorted by several police vehicles. The entrance to Mandla’s home was locked and the locks had to be broken for the family to gain entry. The lawyers on both sides continued discussions with the police while the locks were being attended to. A short while later; the family was within the grounds of Mandla’s home.

Mandla was not a part of the exhumation and that triggered some confusion as the family tried to find the specific graves. None of the family members present for the exhumation knew the exact location of the graves as they had not visited them after Mandla had moved them. The family did eventually locate the graves without much difficulty.

The media was not allowed beyond the gates as the exhumation involves traditional rituals that must be performed in private by the family. The procession of cars drove into Mandla’s compound and the media could only take pictures as the cars went by. The latest reports state that the exhumations were completed on Wednesday evening. The remains would be kept at a funeral parlor overnight and the Qunu burials would take place on Thursday.

According to media reports, Mandla Mandela believes this saga will only be concluded when Nelson Mandela passes away and the family gets the opportunity to sit at the reading of his grandfather’s last will and testament. Mandla is hopeful that his grandfather will name him as the heir and therefore, the one who will decide on the final resting place of the Mandela clan and in particular, that of Nelson Mandela.

The grave of Nelson Mandela is expected to generate a lot of revenue as it will be a national heritage site and a museum will be erected in his honor. It will most likely be on the itinerary of many tourists who visit South Africa in future. Some say that this lucrative opportunity is the real reason that Mandla wants the graves to be on his compound in Mvezo so he can have full control of the heritage site. The latest update on former President Nelson Mandela is that he is still critically ill and is on machines that are helping him with his breathing. The family elaborated that the machines are assisting him and that he is not completely dependent on them.


  1. sam mabusio says:

    Speedy recovery Tata mandela!

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