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As Mandela Lies In Hospital, Family Fights Over Kin's Graves

NPR icon by Mark Memmott
Juda Ngenya

Former South African President Nelson Mandela remains in stable but critical condition at a Pretoria hospital, where he's been since June 8 for treatment of a serious lung infection.

The anti-apartheid hero, who survived 27 years in jail and decades of oppression, is 15 days shy of his 95th birthday.

Meanwhile, members of his family are involved in what seems to be a nasty legal battle over where some of his kin have been buried. As The Associated Press writes:

"A family feud over the burial site of three of Nelson Mandela's children intensified Tuesday when criminal charges were filed against one of his grandsons."

On Tuesday, a South African court ruled that the remains of those relatives must be returned to their original burial site, South Africa's News 24 reports.

According to the AP, Nelson Mandela "has long said that he wants to be buried in Qunu, where his children were buried in the family plot." But in March 2011, the wire service adds, his grandson Mandla Mandela "moved the children's remains [about 15 miles away] to Mvezo, where he plans to open a hotel." The BBC says Mandla Mandela also plans a "heritage center" dedicated to his grandfather.

Other relatives sued, claiming that Mandla Mandela had moved the remains without their knowledge or consent. On Wednesday, an Eastern Cape High Court judge said the grandson's actions had been "scandalous" and "vicious," News 24 reports.

The BBC notes that Mandla Mandela was nominated by his grandfather to be "chief Zwelivelile of the Thembu people." Mandla Mandela is also a member of African National Congress Parliamentary Caucus.

News 24 says the remains are those of "Mandela's eldest son, Mandla Mandela's father, Makgatho Mandela, who died in 2005; Mandela's first daughter, Makaziwe Mandela, who died as an infant in 1948; and Mandela's second son, Madiba Thembekile, who died in a car accident in 1969."

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