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Court Rules Among Quarreling Mandela Family Over Resting Place

posted 28 Jun 2013, 10:45 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 28 Jun 2013, 10:47 ]

A dispute between members of Nelson Mandela's family over the his final resting place goes legal.

MTHATA, SOUTH AFRICA (JUNE 28, 2013) (REUTERS) -  A dispute between factions of Nelson Mandela's family over the anti-apartheid leader's final resting place went legal on Friday (June 28) when his eldest daughter and a dozen other relatives won a court order against his grandson, Mandla.

The SABC state broadcaster said the court had ordered Mandla to return the remains of three of 94-year-old Mandela's children from the Eastern Cape village ofMvezo, where Mandla is now chief, to Qunu, Mandela's ancestral home 20 kilometres (13 miles) away.

The three bodies were taken from the Mandela family cemetery in Qunu, 700 kilometres south of Johannesburg, several years ago and reburied in Mvezo, where 39-year-old Mandla has built a lavish memorial centre for South Africa's first black president.

The exhumations took place at Mandla's behest and against the will of other family members, in particular Mandela's eldest daughter, Makaziwe, who wants her father to be buried in Qunu, local media have reported.

The spat between the Qunu side of the family and Mandla, who has been accused of exploiting has grandfather's memory, has been brewing for two years but came to a head this week when the elder statesman slipped into a critical condition in hospital.

Lawyer Wesley Hayes, representing Makaziwe and 15 other family members, confirmed that papers had been filed in the Mthatha regional court against Mandla but declined to disclose details "because of the sensitivity of the case".

A legal source who declined to be named said a sheriff had been to Mandla's house and attached the court order to the gate after failing to gain access or the attention of a security guard.

Mandla spokesman Freddy Pilusa denied the court order had been received.

The dispute is one of several brewing between different factions of the family over 'Brand Mandela', the rights to use the name and images of one of most respected figures of the 20th century.

Makaziwe and another daughter, Zenani, are locked in a legal battle with George Bizos, the lawyer who defended Mandela at his treason trial in 1964, over control of revenues from the sale of Mandela hand prints and other branded goods.

The grave dispute is also the latest example of the fraying family tempers as South Africa and the world prepare to say farewell to 'Madiba', the clan name by which Mandela is affectionately known.

On Thursday, Makaziwe likened the hordes of foreign media outside the Pretoria hospital to "vultures" circling the carcass of a slaughtered buffalo, and accused them of racism in the way reported on Mandela's deteriorating condition.

The three bodies buried in Mvezo are Mandela's infant son Makaziwe, who died in 1948, another son, Thembi, who died in a car crash in 1969, and Makgatho, who died of an AIDS-related illness in 2005.

Phone calls to Makaziwe Mandela's mobile went unanswered.