06/01/05 Nelson Mandela addressing the media about his son Makgatho\'s death at his home in Houghton, north of Johannesburg. Makaziwe Mandela, Makgatho\'s sister, and his son. pic Thobeka Zazi Ndabula

Close relatives of former president Nelson Mandela and chiefs of the Abathembu royal family gathered at his home in Qunu, in the Eastern Cape, on Tuesday morning.

This followed an urgent call reportedly made by his children, a Sapa correspondent reported.

Among those who arrived at the homestead were Mandla Mandela, Thanduxolo Mandela, Ndaba Mandela, and Ndileka Mandela.

Also there was chief Bhovulengwe, of the Abathembu royal council.

The meeting had yet to start by 10.30am. It was delayed because some family members were not aware of the meeting, and attempts were being made to contact them.

Napilisi Mandela, an elder in the Mandela family, confirmed that the meeting would go ahead as planned.

He said it was being called to discuss delicate matters pertaining to the anti-apartheid icon.

Napilisi Mandela usually presides over the family's meetings and rituals.

Another close relative, Silumko Mandela, said final arrangements for the meeting were still being made.

"Many of us in the village were not aware and we were only told this morning, so a number of Mandela elders still need to be transported to Qunu for the meeting," said Silumko Mandela. - Sapa

* This story has been updated on Tuesday June 25 at 11:32.