The infighting among the Mandelas is getting more intense with each day as each side keeps coming up with new ammunition. The Mandela family is bickering over the recognized burial site of the Mandelas. Mandla Mandela exhumed the bodies of three of Nelson Mandela’s children from the Mandela burial plot in Qunu. He moved the remains to Mvezo where he is the chief. He did this without first consulting the family elders and getting their authorization. His aunt Makaziwe and other family members asked the Eastern Cape High Court to intervene. The court instructed Mandla to return the remains to Qunu. Mandla Mandela is defiant and said that he would challenge the court’s decision.
Mandla’s elite position in the family has come under fire. It turns out that Mandla is an illegitimate child of Nelson Mandela’s late son, Makgatho. Makgatho and Mandla’s mother Nolusapho did not marry. According to reports by the Mail and Guardian, a family member spoke in confidence and said that Makgatho did not marry Nolusapho as she did not possess the qualities that are expected of someone who is welcomed into a royal family.
Though he is an illegitimate child, it has been said that Mandla is the former president’s favorite grandchild. In family circles, it used to be common to hear that if anyone wanted to win favor with Madiba, they would have to “go through Mandla”.
With regards to Mandla’s Mvezo chieftaincy, when no other family member was keen on the role it was given to Mandla because he volunteered. Ndaba Mandela, who is Mandla’s half-brother from his father’s marriage to Zondi, said that the family regrets supporting his chieftaincy.
The Icamagu Institute is a hive of information about African culture and religion. The director is Dr Nokuzola Mndende who was quoted as saying that an illegitimate child cannot be sworn in as chief. This is particularly so if the father of this child is married and has another son with his wife. Mndende explained: “Traditionally, if the parents are not married the child uses the surname and clan name of the mother. Even if the child is familiar with the father and his family, the child is still of the mother’s family.”
It appears that there was an attempt to remedy this detail of Mandla being an illegitimate child. His mother had allegedly moved to Hong Kong after marrying a successful businessman. She was brought back to South Africa and married off to the deceased Makgatho even though he had decided not marry her while he was still alive.
Mandla Mandela has dared his family to produce the chief who they believe is the legitimate one. Responding to utterances by his brother Ndaba, Mandla challenged: “As usual, my family is using the wrong forum to address family matters. Ndaba must come to the family and tell us these things he knows, that we don’t.” Clearly the battle lines have been drawn and the world awaits the conclusion of this difficult situation in the Mandela home. Former President Nelson Mandela remains critically ill at the Pretoria Medi-Clinic Heart Hospital.