‘We’ll never find closure’

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Onicca Nyembezi Mothoa (wearing the pink scarf) of Pretoria, travelled with her family to attend Madibas funeral. She claims Mandela is her biological father. Picture: Cindy Waxa

Qunu - The world watched on Sunday as South Africa laid to rest one of its greatest leaders, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, but the people of Qunu where he hails from say they are yet to find closure.

As throngs of dignitaries, including South African politicians, current and former heads of state, and prominent members of the Mandela family filled the 5 000-seater dome where his funeral service was held, his neighbours and other villagers carried on with their daily chores including doing laundry and going shopping after scores of them were turned away from the funeral.

Other Madiba mourners and relatives, who had travelled from Cape Town, Gauteng and Port Elizabeth, got only as far as the gate of the Mandela household after failing to secure accreditation for the much-awaited state funeral.

Outside Mandela’s home was Onicca Nyembezi Mothoa, 66, the woman who claims to be Mandela’s love child. She was accompanied by nine family members including her two daughters, Gloria and Salphina Maboa. Mothoa, who is a daughter of Sophie Majeni, caused tension in the Mandela family in June when she joined hundreds of well-wishers who had visited the Pretoria hospital where Madiba was admitted. She claimed that despite her attempts to see the family, including visiting the family home in Qunu, she had never been able to get past his bodygyuards.

Holding back tears outside the home on Sunday she said all she wanted was to “bury my father”.

“All I want is to be part of my father’s funeral. I’m not here for money or fame or my father’s inheritance, I just want the family to recognise me,” she said.

After getting an access badge from an MK veteran, Mothoa thought that her dream of finally meeting the Mandela family was becoming a reality, but her hopes were dashed when she arrived at the gate. Police turned her away, saying she had used someone else’s accreditation. “I’m really hurt… I can’t explain how empty I feel inside after such rejection,” she said.

Nozuzile Gqabantshi, 73, who lives 3km away from the Mandelas, opted to watch the funeral on television. The grandmother, who worked at Mandela’s home as a cleaner, went out briefly in the morning to watch the army funeral procession, but went back to continue her domestic chores.

“Today the people of Qunu feel so left out that we feel like outsiders. We are told that we won’t get in without accreditation, but nobody even told us about that.

“We are very hurt, and we shall never find closure about Tat’ uMandela’s death,” she said.

Despite Nomnqazelo Mdayi, 72, being Mandela’s cousin, she was also not admitted to the funeral ceremony.

“My mother is a Mandela, and when Madiba was alive he always made sure that I attended every family ceremony. I don’t live in Qunu any more as I’m married and live in another village. I went for accreditation, but somehow my name didn’t appear in the system. I am very sad… we’ve spent the whole week mourning with his children, but on the day of his funeral we are nobodies… that really hurts,” she said.

Mdayi hoped to go to Mandela’s grave today to find closure and ukungxengxeza (to plead with Madiba’s spirit) to forgive her for not attending the funeral.


Cape Argus

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