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Media allowed into Mandela graves hearing

02 July 2013, 17:32

Mthatha - The legal battle about the Mandela family gravesite will now be open to the public, including the media, Eastern Cape High Court Judge Lusindiso Pakade ruled in Mthatha on Tuesday.

Pakade said he received a letter from the SA National Editors Forum (Sanef) asking that the matter no longer be held in camera.

There were no objections to the request from the applicants - comprising 16 Mandela family members, and the respondents - which include Nelson Mandela's grandson Mandla Mandela.

"I rule that the proceedings in this matter be held in open court," Pakade said.

He ruled journalists would be allowed to record proceedings on cameras and audio recording equipment.

The court granted 16 members of the family a court order last week that Mandla Mandela return to Qunu the remains of three family members he had exhumed and reburied in his home village of Mvezo two years ago.

On Monday, counsel for both parties discussed the matter in chambers with Pakade, said attorney Sandla Zigadla, for the 16 family members who applied for the court order.

"They were trying to put Mandla's side forward," Zigadla said.

"They want to file their answering papers. The judge decided that the matter had to be heard full-blown in court on Tuesday."

The three exhumed graves are those of Mandela's eldest son, Mandla's father, Makgato Mandela who died in 2005; Mandela's first daughter Makaziwe, who died as an infant in 1948; and Mandela's second son Madiba Thembekile, who died in a car accident in 1969.

Mandla Mandela is the official head of the Madiba clan and is an ANC MP.

The birthplace of the Mandelas

Former president Mandela, who is in a critical condition in a Pretoria hospital, has said he wants to be buried in Qunu alongside his family.

Mandla Mandela, who was named chief of Mvezo after the death of Makgatho Mandela in 2005, claims that Mvezo, where he is building a multi-million rand hotel, is the birthplace of the Mandelas and holds historic significance.

An error in the court papers last week has given him until 29 July to respond to the matter, instead of 29 June.

On Monday, Mandla's counsel argued in chambers that they were not ready to argue the matter as they had been led to believe that they had until 29 July to prepare their argument.

Mandla has indicated that he will oppose the exhumations.

Last week, a Mandela family member told Sapa that, when the matter was raised at a family meeting in Qunu, Mandla refused to answer why he had moved the graves without consulting the family and stormed out of the meeting.



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