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Mandela's three children reburied

Xinhua | Updated: 2013-07-05 09:37

CAPE TOWN - Three deceased children of former South African president Nelson Mandela were reburied on Thursday in Qunu, the Easstern Cape Province amid a growing family feud over the family's burial site.

The remains of the deceased were exhumed on Wednesday evening under a court ruling which allowed the removal of the remains from Mvezo to Qunu.

Mandela's grandson Mandla Mandela removed the remains from Qunu to Mvezo in 2011 without the approval of other family members.

Last week, 16 members of the Mandela family filed a lawsuit against Mandla in a bid to force Mandela to return the remains for reburial in Qunu.

The Mthatha High Court in Eastern Cape ruled against Mandla, ordering him to return the remains by 3 pm Wednesday. Since Mandla missed the deadline, the sheriff of the court had to force open a gate to Mandla's Mvezo home and  spent several hours exhuming the remains.

The feud drew much attention as it is linked to the eventual burial site of Mandela who has been in hospital for more than three weeks.

Mandla insists that the remains of the three were at their rightful place in Mvezo, saying the way the matter is handled "is contrary to our customs and a deep disappointment to my grandfather and his ancestors".

But other family members say that Qunu is the preferred gravesite by Mandela, who has expressed his willing to be buried there after death. They also suspect Mandla of attempting to make financial gains from visitors once Mandela is buried in Mvezo.

Mvezo is the birthplace of Mandela, while Qunu is the place where Mandela spent his happiest days in childhood.

The family feud was unfolding amid reports that Mandela was in a "permanent vegetative state."

His doctors advised his family to turn off his life support machine, according to court documents related to the family dispute.  

"He is in a permanent vegetative state and is assisted in breathing by a life support machine," said the documents.

"The Mandela family have been advised by the medical practitioners that his life support machine should be switched off, " the documents said.

But President Jacob Zuma said on Thursday that Mandela remains critical but stable.

"Madiba (Mandela's clan name) is receiving the best medical care from a multi-disciplinary team of health professionals who are at his bedside around the clock. He is well looked after," Zuma said after visiting Mandela.

Also on Thursday, Mandela's wife Graca Machel said Mandela may at times be uncomfortable and feel pain, but he is fine.

Graca was speaking while attending the launch of a new sports initiative at the Nelson Mandela Centre for Memory in Johannesburg.

Mandela has been hospitalized for a recurring lung infection in a Pretoria hospital since June 8.

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