While Nelson Mandela lies in a “vegetative state” kept artificially alive by ventilators, according to documents filed in court, one of his grandsons, Mandla , went on television last night and “trashed” family members publicly, reports say.
Reports have confirmed that Mandela has been kept artificially alive by ventilators. “He’s basically gone,” Charlene Smith, an authorized biographer of the former anti-apartheid leader, said last week. “He’s not there. He’s not there.”
South Africa’s Independent Online said that an affidavit presented at the Mthatha High Court by the family a few days ago said, “The family has been advised by medical practitioners that his (Mandela’s) life support should be switched off.”
Given this situation, South Africans are stunned by the spectacle of the Nelson Mandela heirs clashing over everything from his legacy to the site of his burial, according to media reports. Some reports have stated that “perhaps the only blessing is that the old man himself is unaware of the wretched depths to which the conflict has sunk.” They say it is a blessing that he, Mandela, is not aware of his grandson “trashing” the family publicly.
Mandla, 39, stands alone on one side of the battle. He lost the court case that ensued involving the remains of the former president’s three deceased children being reburied in their original graves.
Last night in a painful display of incivility, Mandla called into question the paternity of his two brothers, Mbuso and Andile. He also said he doubted the maternity of Ndaba, his third brother. He also claimed that his own son was really not his own son. His son, Mandla alleged, was the product of an affair between his ex-wife and his brother.
“Mbuso impregnated my wife,” he stated on live television in South Africa.
Mandla also blamed relatives of exploiting the family patriarch for public fame and financial benefit and said Mandela himself had judged that he, Mandla, was the rightful heir to chieftainship of the Thembu tribe.
“In the past few days I have been the target of attacks from all sorts of individuals wanting a few minutes of fame and media attention at my expense,” Mandla said. “At the moment it seems that anyone and everyone can come and say ‘I am a Mandela’ and demand to be part of decision-making in this family. Individuals decided to jump on the Mandela wagon.”
Archbishop Desmond Tutu, social rights activist and, like Mandela, Nobel Peace Prize winner for his role in struggle against white minority rule, begged the Mandela family not to “besmirch” the Nobel Laureate’s name with their spats. He told them to overcome their differences.
“Please, please, please may we think not only of ourselves? It’s almost like spitting in Madiba’s face,” he said in a statement.
“Your anguish, now, is the nation’s anguish – and the world’s. We want to embrace you, to support you, to shine our love for Madiba through you. Please, may we not besmirch his name?”
Kgalema Motlanthe, South African deputy president, also said he hoped the public quarrel could be resolved in a “dignified manner.”
Meanwhile on Thursday, the bodies of Mandela’s three children were reburied in Mandela’s hometown of Qunu, their original burial site following a court order. The ceremony was attended by family members and community leaders. Reports say the former president had expressed his wish to be buried in Qunu where he grew up.
In 2011, grandson Mandla had the bodies exhumed and buried in his village of Myezo, Nelson Mandela’s birthplace. In a court action, he was forced to move the bodies back to their original burial place. Last night, he started to publicly “trash” the Mandela family.
By Perviz Walji