Nelson Mandela

Police probe Mandela's grandson over graves

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 03 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 03 July, 2013, 3:28am

South African police opened an investigation yesterday into Nelson Mandela's grandson on suspicion of illegally exhuming the bodies of three of the ailing anti-apartheid hero's children, a police spokesman said.

The investigation is the latest twist in a family feud that has drawn global attention as the 94-year-old Mandela lies in a Pretoria hospital in a critical condition.

"We have started our investigation and we will send the case to the senior prosecutor for a decision on whether to prosecute or not," Eastern Cape police spokesman Mzukisi Fatyela said.

It came as a South African court yesterday ordered the return of the remains of the bodies to his ancestral village.

A judge in the southern city of Mthatha instructed Mandela's eldest grandson Mandla to transfer the remains to Qunu by 3pm today. Mandla allegedly had the graves moved to Mvezo, about 30 kilometres away, without the rest of the family's consent in 2011.

Mandla's lawyers, however, asked the court to rescind the order, arguing that he was not served with the relevant papers, leaving open the possibility that the order could still be changed.

Mandela had expressed his wish to be buried in Qunu, and his daughters want to have the children's remains transferred so they can be together. Mandela's parents are also interred at the family gravesite in Qunu.

The grandson has argued Mandela should be buried at his birthplace Mvezo, where Mandla holds court as clan chief.

The court order was issued in response to a request by 16 relatives of the revered leader.

The remains belonged to Mandela's eldest son Thembekile, who died in 1969, his nine-month-old infant Makaziwe, who passed away in 1948, and Mandla's own father Magkatho, who died in 2005.