Family divided over burial site as Mandela's condition remains unchanged

Johannesburg, PTI | Updated : 26 June 2013, 09:57 PM

The family of Nelson Mandela is deeply divided over the South African democracy icon's final resting place with one of his grandsons storming out of a family meeting, according to a report on Wednesday.

The family was torn between Mandla Mandela - who wants Mandela buried at his birthplace in Mvezo - and the rest, who felt that his wish to be buried next to his children should be respected, The Star newspaper reported quoting its sources.

The meeting held on Tuesday at Qunu in the Eastern Cape, where the revered statesman spent his childhood, to discuss a significant family matter - was attended by family, United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa and Minister of Public Service and Administration Lindiwe Sisulu.

Also in attendance were chief Bhovulengwe of the abaThembu royal council, Mandela's daughters Makaziwe and Zenani, and Mandla and his brother Ndaba.

The Star has reliably learnt that Mandla had exhumed the bodies of three of Mandela's children by Evelyn, his first wife, and reburied them in Mvezo.

The chieftain had moved his father Makgatho; his aunt Makaziwe, who died in 1948 at only nine months; and uncle Thembekile, who was killed in a car accident in 1969, to his Mvezo traditional authority, where they were reburied.

Makgatho died of an Aids-related illness in 2005.

"This is making it impossible for Mandela to be buried next to his children because they are buried in Mvezo. Mandela is going to be buried in Qunu. Mandla did this without consulting the elders," a source said.

It is understood that a defiant Mandla stormed out of the meeting, which also discussed Mandela's health, before it was finished because the family were insistent that the Mandela children be taken back to their original burial ground.

Nelson Mandela's condition deteriorates, on life-support system

Anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela has been kept on a life-support system following deterioration of his health condition at a South African hospital where the 94-year-old leader was admitted three weeks ago with a recurring lung infection.

"Ailing former President Nelson Mandela is on life support in the Pretoria Heart Clinic where he has been fighting a recurrent lung infection since June 8," The Citizen' newspaper reported.

According to the paper, five highly-placed sources close to the family, including two who had recently visited him in hospital, said that the iconic leader's health has deteriorated to the point where he is breathing with the assistance of a life support ventilator.

The revelation came as a group of elders of the AbaThembu clan, to which critically ill Mandela belongs, will assess his condition during a visit to his hospital on Wednesday to decide on a course of action, according to the daily The Times here.

Another source told the daily that Mandela is suffering from kidney failure and is undergoing renal dialysis for three hours every second day.

"He is critical, but has an entire team of doctors, from a cardiac specialist, pulmonary specialist, kidney specialist and a main consultant looking after him," the source said, adding that the doctors have given the family the option to switch off the life support machines.

A meeting was called on Tuesday by Mandela's eldest daughter Makaziwe at his ancestral home in Qunu in the Eastern Cape province during which it was decided that that the elders and Mandela's confidantes would visit Mandela at the hospital.

The Afrikaans daily Beeld reported that two hours after the Mandela family meeting, a grave-digging machine was parked near the proposed graveyard where Mandela is likely to be buried.

However, reports from the Presidency only confirmed that Mandela remains in a critical condition. As South Africans steeled themselves for the worst, the family turned to prayer.

First Published: Wednesday, June 26, 2013 02:32 PM
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