JOHANNESBURG – An ongoing feud between some of the Mandela family members that has made headlines in the past year has taken another turn with a report that Mandla Mandela was locked out of the family’s homestead in the village of Qunu by relatives four days before his grandfather, former President Nelson Mandela, was buried there.
Mandla is also reported to have found his home on the Mandela estate without electricity and water on the day of his grandfather’s burial.
The Johannesburg tabloid The Times reported Tuesday that locks at Nelson Mandela’s home in the Eastern Cape hamlet were changed shortly after his eldest daughter, Makaziwe Mandela, arrived there on Thursday.
At the time, Mandla Mandela was keeping vigil next to his grandfather’s coffin while the anti-apartheid icon’s body lay in state at the Union Buildings in Pretoria for three days.
He escorted the coffin to Qunu on Saturday for Mandela’s funeral the following day.
Approached for comment on the report Wednesday, Mandla Mandela’s spokesman, Freddy Pilusa, said: “He (Mandla) doesn’t want to confirm nor deny the report. He wants to focus on promoting and upholding the legacy of his grandfather going forward.”
Mandla and Makaziwe have been involved in a bitter public spat over the control of Mandela’s legacy and leadership of the fractured family.
The newspaper report said that since Mandela’s death on Dec. 5:
Water and lights at Mandla’s house on the Mandela estate were disconnected late Saturday. The occupants, including Mandla, had no water when they awoke Sunday.
Makaziwe has told Mandla that he must remove his cattle, pigs and dogs from the homestead.
Relatives, politicians and religious leaders aligned to Mandla were sidelined and refused accreditation for Sunday’s funeral.
Traditional family rituals, scheduled to be held in Mvezo, a town near Qunu, where Mandla is the Madiba clan chief, were canceled.
No transport to the funeral was provided for Mandla’s mother, Nolusapho, or for her sister. They were brought to the funeral after a member of the family sent a text message to Mandla telling him of the situation.
A further outbreak of hostilities is expected over Mandela’s will, the contents of which have not been made public.
Makaziwe, who is said to wield great influence in the family, oversaw the family’s preparations for Mandela’s funeral.
Nelson Mandela’s second wife, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, denied that his family is engaged in a “succession or dynasty” battle. She also said Makaziwe is now the head of the family.
Madikizela-Mandela, in a statement issued on her behalf by her spokesman, lashed out at what she called “mischievous innuendos and newsroom slugs designed to disgrace the family” through “apartheid-style” tactics.
Madikizela-Mandela noted that three daughters survive Nelson Mandela: Makaziwe Mandela, Zenani Dlamini-Mandela and Zindziswa Mandela.
“In accordance with customary law and tradition the eldest daughter, being Ms. Makaziwe Mandela, will head the family and will make decisions with the support of her two sisters. To this end there is no misunderstanding or debate. Mr. Mandla Mandela is respected as one of Nelson Mandela’s grandchildren, the next generation of the Mandela family,” she said.