Mandela family in court feud over final resting place

Relatives split over whether former leader should be buried in his village or at birthplace

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 30 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 30 June, 2013, 6:38am

As Nelson Mandela remained in critical condition in hospital, a family feud over where the 94-year-old former president should be buried went to the courts.

Mandela's oldest daughter, Makaziwe, and 15 other relatives have filed a court application to get Mandela's grandson to return the bodies of three of Mandela's children to their original graves in the eastern village of Qunu.

The grandson, Mandla Mandela, acknowledges having reburied the three bodies 20 kilometres away in the Mvezo village, where he plans to create a Mandela shrine, hotel and soccer stadium, said the South African Press Association.

The anti-apartheid leader built his retirement home in Qunu and was living there until his repeated spells in hospital from the end of last year. Mandela attended his son's burial at the family plot in Qunu in 2005, and it was widely expected he would be buried there.

But his grandson exhumed the bodies of Mandela's three children and moved them to nearby Mvezo, which is the former president's birthplace and where the grandson holds authority as chief.

Eldest daughter Makaziwe and other Mandela family members want the bodies returned to their original graves in Qunu, according to the reports.

US president Barack Obama yesterday met with two of Mandela's daughters and eight of his grandchildren at the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, part of the ex-president's foundation.

Obama said he told the family he hopes Mandela draws comfort from his time with loved ones. He also spoke by phone with Mandela's wife Graca Machel, who was at his bedside.