In Brief

Row over Mandela grave deepens as children are re-exhumed

As 94-year-old lies in hospital, bodies of his children are set to be dug up and moved again

THE dispute between members of Nelson Mandela's family over where South Africa's first black president should be buried has taken a new, rather bizarre turn.

The argument broke out during a meeting of the Mandela clan at his home in Qunu, in the Eastern Cape. Mandela's grandson, Mandla, revealed he had exhumed the bodies of three of his grandfather's children from their graves in Qunu and re-buried them in the village of Mvezo where the 94-year-old was born.

Mandla, who is adamant Mandela should be buried in Mvezo, did not consult other family members about the exhumations. He clashed with relatives over that issue and their desire that 'Mandiba' – as Mandela is known in his homeland – should be buried in Qunu, the village where he grew up and lived in retirement.

Now South Africa's City Press is reporting that the chief of Qunu village, Nkosikazi Nokwanele Balizulu, has granted permission for the remains of Mandela's son, Makgatho, and his siblings, Thembekile and Makaziwe, to be taken from Mvezo and reburied in Qunu. Balizulu said she had given permission after being approached by Mandela's daughter, Makaziwe.

"Though I don't know when this will happen, but they have made a request and I have agreed to it," Balizulu told the paper. "I gave the letters to a funeral parlour they had appointed as per their instructions."

Balizulu added that the original exhumation of the bodies had been done "disrespectfully". "He [Mandla] just went to the gravesite and dug up the remains. People in the village [Qunu] even refused to be part of the process because it had been done in such an undignified manner," she said.

Mandla Mandela was unavailable for comment, but the re-exhumation and relocation of the bodies is likely to deepen the rift in the Mandela family. Mandela's parents, his mother, Nosekeni, and father, Mphakanyiswa, are also buried in the family gravesite in Qunu.

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