Mandela grandson hits back at family after court case
Mandla says he was being ’victimised’ for opposing attempts to access funds
Mandla Mandela, grandson of former South African president Nelson Mandela, talks to journalists during a news conference in Mvezo in the Eastern Cape of South Africa . Photograph: Siegfried Modola/Reuters
Nelson Mandela’s under-fire grandson has hit back against family members who took him to court over a controversial planned burial site for the former president, saying he was being victimised for opposing their attempts to gain access to Mandela’s funds.
At a press conference in Mvezo in Eastern Cape, South Africa, Mandla Mandela accused his aunt Makaziwe of sowing “seeds of destruction” in the family by taking the anti-apartheid icon to court over access to his trust.
Mr Mandela’s eldest daughter, along with her half-sister Zenani, have sought the removal of three respected appointees to the trust, including George Bizos, the lawyer who defended Mandela against a potential death penalty in the famed 1964 Rivonia treason trial.
Mandla Mandela had refused to join the other family members in this litigation, and said today he had been made a “target” for taking this stance. Explaining how “an entire family of mine turned against me”, he said “this is the very family that has taken their own father, their own grandfather to court for his monies.”
He insisted he had the authority to act on Mr Mandela’s behalf as the oldest male heir and having been elevated to the position of clan leader in a traditional ceremony in 2007. And he questioned the credibility of some of the individuals who had joined Makaziwe Mandela in the court action against him, saying they had abandoned their own families to “jump on the Mandela wagon”.
In court papers, Makaziwe accused him of moving the bodies of three of Mandela’s children to Mvezo from the family’s original graveyard in Qunu so he could profit from a planned visitors centre.
Makaziwe also claimed her father’s health was “perilous”, requiring immediate court intervention. But Mandla Mandela contested this in court, rejecting suggestions that there was an imminent threat to his grandfather’s life.
This view appeared to be backed by Mr Mandela’s wife Graça Machel today when she spoke about her husband’s condition at an event in Johannesburg. She said her husband is “sometimes uncomfortable” but is “fine”, and thanked the people for their support.
A judge yesterday ordered the return of three of the three remains from Mvezo to Qunu just over 20 kilometres away.
Eastern Cape police said the remains will undergo forensic testing today before being reburied. Members of Mr Mandela’s family - led by his eldest daughter Makaziwe - have gathered for a possible reburial this afternoon.
Meanwhile, in Pretoria, South African president Jacob Zumu is visiting Mr Mandela in hospital, and an update on his health will be issued later.