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Johannesburg - Doctors have advised Nelson Mandela’s family that his life support should be switched off – and they are considering this to avoid prolonging his suffering.
But the statesman will not die a dignified death unless he is buried near the remains of two of his sons and a granddaughter in Qunu.
This emerged in the Mthatha High Court on Wednesday, where Judge Lusindiso Pakade ordered that the remains be exhumed from Mveza and returned to Qunu.
In an affidavit handed to the court, Mandela’s eldest daughter Makaziwe Mandela said: “Mr Nelson Mandela’s health is perilous. He is… assisted in breathing by a life-support machine.
“The family has been advised by the medical practitioners that his life support machine should be switched off. Rather than prolonging his suffering, the Mandela family is exploring this option as a very real probability.
“Mr Mandela is incapacitated and unable to approach the court in his own name.”
However, she said, Mandela would not die a dignified death unless he was buried alongside the remains of two sons and a granddaughter at the family homestead in Qunu.
They were named in court papers as sons Makgatho Mandela, Mandla Mandela’s father, who died in 2005; Madiba Thembekile Mandela, who died in 1969, while Mandela was still on Robben Island; and his granddaughter Makaziwe Mandela.
It had earlier been reported that Makaziwe was Mandela’s infant daughter, who died in 1948.
The affidavit said: “The applicants do not want a situation to be created in which Mr Nelson Mandela’s remains are committed to lie in a burial site, entirely alone and forlorn and absent from those remains of his children and grandchild.”
“It has always been the desire of Mr Nelson Mandela for his remains to be buried at his family’s homestead in Qunu near Mthatha, Eastern Cape.
“The applicants are desirous of burying their father and committing him to the earth in which his descendant’s remains lie. It’s incontestable that these are the wishes of Mr Nelson Mandela. But because Mandela’s grandson, Mandla, had removed the remains of the three relatives and reburied them at his homestead in Mvezo, Mandela could not be laid to rest with them, she said.
Mandla had been refusing to return their remains to the gravesite in Qunu, which is being prepared for Mandela’s burial, she said.
She accused Mandla of trying to gain from Mandela’s death.
She said he had dug up the remains of three relatives in a moment of anger towards the rest of the Mandela family. The relationship between Mandla and the rest of the Mandela family had become “strained in recent times”.
Mandla felt “alienated” from the family and had secretly removed the remains in the dead of the night, her affidavit read.
She said Mandla had hoped that, because he had reburied the relatives’ remains at his homestead in Mvezo, Nelson Mandela would also be buried at Mvezo. “It would appear that the first respondent (Mandla) desires that Mr Nelson Mandela be interred in his land, at The Great Place, Mvezo, for self-serving interests. By controlling the area in which these descendants remains are buried, he expects that the remains of Nelson Mandela will soon follow.”
Makaziwe also spoke of how the family was preparing for the day of Madiba’s death.
“The anticipation of his impending death is based on real and substantial grounds,” said Makaziwe.