Xhosa King Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo, ruler of the Thembu tribe to which the Mandela family belongs, has requested that 94-year-old Nelson Mandela‘s grandson, Mandla Mandela, 39, be stripped of his chieftancy in light of his “scandalous” removal of three Mandela family graves, reports the Associated Foreign Press.
Without permission, Mandla exhumed the bodies of Mandela’s eldest son Thembekile who died in 1969, his nine-month-old infant Makaziwe who died in 1948, and Mandla’s father, Magkatho, who died in 2005, and removed them from Mandela’s home village of Qunu.
After a very public, ugly court battle, a judge ruled in favor of Mandela family members, including wife Grace Machel, who fought against Mandla to move the family members’ bodies back to Qunu — where Nelson Mandela always said that he wanted to be buried.
Sheriffs were forced to open the gates to Mandla’s estate with a pickaxe, enter with three hearses and exhume the bodies.
King Dalindyebo denounced Mandla’s actions, while also claiming that he is not Nelson Mandela’s rightful heir, even though the revolutionary selected his grandson to succeed him:
“Mandla has never been the legitimate heir of the Madiba family,” he told City Press newspaper, using the Mandela clan name.
“I will write to him and tell him that my wish is that he is not involved in any of the affairs,” he added.
Read more from the Associated Foreign Press below:
King Dalindyebo’s spokeswoman told the Sunday Times incorrect processes had been followed to install Mandla.
But the king himself is under fire from several chiefs who want him removed, according to South Africa’s Sunday Times.
The 59-year-old is appealing a 2009 conviction of kidnapping and culpable homicide of subjects accused of criminal acts.
Dalindyebo had previously accused Mandla of trying to usurp him, but Mandla spoke dismissively of the monarch this week.
“I don’t want to waste my time with people who obviously don’t understand issues because they are uneducated,” he said.
However, the royal family can only recommend a chief’s removal to the political government, which has the final say.
“The king can’t do so on his own and the king can’t just choose who should succeed the chief,” Zingisa Bokwe, secretary of the Eastern Cape province’s House of Traditional Leaders, told City Press.
According to South African newspaper The Sunday Times, clan elders fear that their ancestors have “cursed” them due to Mandla’s actions:
“Mandela’s soul is not at peace. The ancestors will only be appeased once the remains of the Mandela family are reburied in Qunu. Only then will Tata (father) be released.”
Nelson Mandela is reportedly barely holding on to life as he lies in critical condition in the hospital that has been his home for 4 weeks.
He turns 95-years-old on July 18.