4 Jul 2013

‘I have no say on Mandela’, says grandson Mandla

After losing a court battle over family remains Nelson Mandela’s grandson Mandla accuses members of the clan of jumping “on a Mandela wagon.”

The 39-year-old has been ordered to restore three family members’ bodies to the family grave.

Mandla – the chief of the clan and Mr Mandela’s official heir – dug up the bodies two years ago from the village of Qunu, where Nelson Mandela grew up.

Mandla had the remains moved 13 miles to his Eastern Cape village of Mvezo.

The three Mandela children buried in Mvezo are an infant girl who died in 1948, a boy, Thembi, who died in a car crash in 1969, and Makgatho, who died of an AIDS-related illness in 2005.

On Wednesday the police exhumed the bodies from Mandla’s homestead.

Speaking about the row on Thursday, Mandla said in a press conference: “I am disappointed with the court decision. I remain convinced the decision was erroneous but I won’t challenge [it].

“I hold the right to determine where Makgatho is buried. I’m chief of Mvezo and head of Mandela clan. None of my brothers challenged Mandela’s decision to mould me to be the chief I am today.”

In all, Mr Mandela fathered six children from his three marriages.

Torn apart

With 94-year-old Mr Mandela critically ill in a Pretoria hospital, the family are arguing over where he should be buried when he passes away.

Mandla added: “I have been torn apart. As an heir to my father I now find myself with no say as to where he is buried”.

Mr Mandela’s daughters Makaziwe and Zenani are also involved in a legal battle with three of his closest aides George Bizos, Bally Chuene and Tokyo Sexwale, to remove them as directors of Mandela-linked holding companies.

Mr Mandela’s grandson added: “I distance myself from squabbles over Madiba’s money. I am tired of people who use me for short term fame.”

Many of Mr Mandela’s grandchildren have gone into business, some are producers and filmakers and two are starring in a reality TV show called Being Mandela.

Mandla added: “Who are the (real) Mandelas? We seem to be on a Mandela wagon. Everyone wants to be a Mandela.”

According to traditional South African culture, Mr Mandela can only pass away peacefully when he unites his family.