Nelson Mandela's ex-wife, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, on Wednesday denied there was a dynastic battle within his extensive family, amid reports of a renewed feud shortly after the peace icon's death.
According to media reports, the family cut off Mandela's eldest grandson and heir to the clan title, Mandla, since the former president’s death on December 5.
But Madikizela-Mandela slammed “mischievous innuendos” and “apartheid-style” tactics.
“Numerous articles, op-eds, reports and editorials... have hammered on the idea that the Mandela family is at war with itself since the news first broke that Madiba is no longer with us,” said her spokesman Thato Mmereki in a statement, referring to Mandela by his clan name.
“These reports have done nothing but use half-truths to cast a shadow on the Mandela family during their time of bereavement.”
According to local media, locks were changed at Mandela's rural Eastern Cape house shortly after his eldest daughter, Makaziwe, arrived there on Thursday - a week after her father's death and three days before his funeral.
Water and electricity were disconnected on the eve of Mandela's state burial in Qunu on Sunday at the end of a 10-day official mourning period followed by millions around the world.
Makaziwe is said to have overseen the funeral preparations, while Mandla was the public face of the family - remaining with the coffin in a solemn vigil throughout three days of lying in state at the Union Buildings in Pretoria last week.
Mandla Mandela, accusing some of his aunts of trying to gain control over the Mandela millions, moved the remains of his late father, Makgatho (who died in 2005), and Mandela's two other deceased children to Mvezo, a village near Qunu where the anti-apartheid hero was born and Mandla is the tribal chief.
His family claimed this was a bid to force the statesman's burial there - as Mandela had wanted to be buried with the remains of his children - in order to cash in on the ensuing tourism.
Mandla was forced by a court order to return the remains to Qunu.
Madikizela-Mandela said on Wednesday that “there is no succession or dynasty debate in the Mandela family”.
“In accordance with customary law and tradition, the eldest daughter, being Ms Makaziwe Mandela, will head the family and will make decisions with the support of her two sisters.
“Mr Mandla Mandela is respected as one of Nelson Mandela's grandchildren, the next generation of the Mandela family.” - Sapa-AFP