Nelson Mandela’s grandson, Mandla Mandela, has been widely lambasted for exhuming the bones of his grandfather’s children from Qunu and burying them in Mvezo without the consent Mandela family, resulting in a feud that dragged the Mandela name into the mud. On Saturday, it was reported that the Thembu King Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo, angered by Mandla’s conduct, decided to strip him of his chieftaincy.
According to the Mail and Guardian, the king said Mandla was being expelled from “all rank of duties”. He said: “He (Mandla) has not only angered us, he has also angered his own family. So as long as the family does not need him in their premises, we don’t need him in the Madiba clan at all.”
Dr Nokuzola Mndende, founder of the Icamagu Institute and a former University of Cape Town lecturer, described Mandla’s claiming to have rights to decide where the bones of Madiba’s children should be buried as “arrogant, chauvinistic and disrespectful”.
According to Mndende, Makaziwe, Mandela’s eldest daughter, should have a say in the affairs of the Madiba family and not be sidelined because of her gender. Also, Mndende believes that Makaziwe has a right to decide where the remains of her siblings should be buried because she is closer to them than Mandla is.
Mandla was planning to have his grandfather buried in Mvezo, next to the bones of his three children – Makgatho, Thembekile and Makaziwe. However, news sources indicate that this would have been against Madiba’s wish. According to reports, Madiba said he would like to be laid to rest in Qunu.
Mandla is currently building a multimillion-rand hotel, Mvezo Great Place. It is suspected that his main aim was to generate revenue through his grandfather’s grave, which is likely to be a tourist attraction.
In June the Mandela family had a meeting to decide where the graves of Mandela’s children should be. They wanted Mandla to return their remains to Qunu, where Madiba wants to be buried. Mandla walked out of that meeting and refused to answer why he had exhumed the bones without consulting with the family. Makaziwe and 16 other family members decided to take Mandla to court. On the 3rd of June, the court ruled in favour of the Mandela family, ordering Mandla to return the bones to Qunu. They were then exhumed and reburied in Qunu on the 4th.
After this, Mandla said he would fight the court’s ruling. His lawyers argued that the lawyers of the Mandela family misled the court by submitting an affidavit with inaccurate information, exaggerating Mandela’s illness so that the court would treat the matter as urgent. The affidavit indicated that Nelson Mandela was in a vegetative state in hospital and that his family had been given an option to switch off his life support machines as there was no prospect of him recovering.
However, Mandela’s doctors denied that he was in a vegetative state. They also rejected the idea of turning off his life support, saying it was an option that would be considered only if he suffered a major organ failure, which wasn’t the case. He will stay on life support until he hopefully recovers. The most recent update on Mandela’s health was issued on the 4th of July. It indicates that he is still in a critical but stable condition. This is Mandela’s 30th day in hospital.