JOHANNESBURG (AP) — An ongoing feud between some of the Mandela family members which 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, 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, told The Associated Press: "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 December 5:
— Water and lights at Mandla's house on the Mandela estate were disconnected late on Saturday. The occupants, including Mandla, had no water when they awoke on Sunday; — Makaziwe had told Mandla, the statesman's grandson, 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 Madiba clan chief, were cancelled.
— 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. Nolusapho, who in the early 1970s had been with Nelson Mandela's now deceased son, was reportedly in tears.
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.
Makaziwe and Mandla locked horns earlier this year when Mandla moved the remains of his father and two other relatives to Mvezo, Mandela's birthplace and where Mandla is tribal chief. With Makaziwe spearheading the campaign to have the remains exhumed, Mandla was forced by a court order to return the remains to Qunu, where Mandela grew up and where he had expressed a wish to be buried.