JOHANNESBURG – A feud within Nelson Mandela’s family raged even as the peace icon lay in state, with members arguing over access to his rural homestead, a report said on Tuesday.
The Times daily reported that family members had “pushed out” Mandla Mandela, the statesman’s oldest grandson and heir to his clan title, from the family home in the village of Qunu in the Eastern Cape province where the anti-apartheid hero was laid to rest on Sunday.
The newspaper said locks were changed at the Mandela house shortly after his eldest daughter, Makaziwe, arrived there on Thursday — a week after her father’s death and three days before his funeral.
Water and electricity were disconnected on the eve of Mandela’s state burial in Qunu at the end of a 10-day official mourning period followed by millions around the world.
“The occupants, including Mandla, had no water when they awoke on Sunday,” the paper said.
Makaziwe had apparently told Mandla to remove his cattle, pigs and dogs from the homestead, and people closely aligned to the grandson were refused access to the gravesite. No transport to the remote burial site was arranged for Mandla’s mother.
Makaziwe is said to have overseen the funeral preparations, while Mandla was the public face of the family — remaining with the coffin in a solemn vigil throughout three days of lying in state at the Union Buildings in Pretoria last week.
The two have long been arguing about control of Mandela’s legacy.
In the last months of the statesman’s life, feuds between his close associates and family members over the use of the Mandela name to sell everything from wine to art threatened at times to overshadow reflections on the great man himself.
Mandla Mandela, accusing some of his aunts of trying to gain control over the Mandela millions, moved the remains of his late father, Makgatho who died of AIDS in 2005, and Mandela’s two other deceased children to Mvezo, a village near Qunu where the anti-apartheid hero was born and Mandla is the tribal chief.
His family claimed this was a bid to force the statesman’s burial there — as Mandela had wanted to be buried with the remains of his children — in order to cash in on the ensuing tourism.
Mandla was forced by a court order to return the remains to Qunu.
Approached for comment, Mandla’s spokesman Freddy Pilusa declined Monday to confirm, or deny, the report.
“All I can say is that Chief Mandela would prefer to focus on upholding and preserving the legacy of Madiba. His priority going forward will be to concentrate on doing good for his community and contribute to serving the people of this country.”
Nelson Mandela’s confidant and lawyer, George Bizos, said last week that an announcement on the contents of his will would be made “in due course”, and described it as a “sacred document”.(AFP)