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Family, elders sing at Mandela graves

Qunu - Members of the Mandela family and elders sang at the gravesite in Qunu ahead of the reburial of former president Nelson Mandela's three children on Thursday.

Mandela's eldest daughter Makaziwe Mandela and Mandela's grandson Ndaba Mandela were present. The group of about 30 people sang hymns while sheltering from the rain under umbrellas.

The Mandela family gravesite in Qunu, in the Eastern Cape, close to Madiba's homestead. Credit: INLSA

The ceremony took place in a field within the boundaries of Mandela's Qunu home. Dozens of journalists stood on cars and bakkies parked behind a fence a short distance away and watched.

Earlier, the remains were positively identified as those of Mandela's children - his eldest son Madiba Thembekile, who died in a car accident in 1969; grandson Mandla Mandela's father Makgatho Mandela, who died in 2005; and Mandela's first daughter Makaziwe Mandela, who died as an infant in 1948. They were identified through forensic testing.

Mandla Mandela had the bodies exhumed and moved to his village of Mvezo in 2011. He claimed that Mvezo, where he was building a multi-million-rand hotel, was the birthplace of the Mandelas and held historic significance.

A resident of the area took him to court last year for digging up graves, but that case had yet to be heard.

The Eastern Cape High Court on Wednesday granted members of the Mandela family, led by Makaziwe Mandela, an order compelling Mandla Mandela to return the remains to Qunu. He challenged the ruling, but lost.

Mandla Mandela was not at the gravesite on Thursday. - Sapa

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