Nelson Mandela’s family has confirmed media reports that the anti-apartheid leader was on life support, according to court documents.
The documents were submitted by Mandela’s eldest daughter, Makaziwe Mandela; his wife, Graca Machel; and 14 other relatives as part of an ongoing dispute within the family over where the former South African president should be buried.
Daughter, Makaziwe Mandela, told a court on Wednesday her father’s condition is “perilous”, and that he is breathing with the help of a life support machine.
“The anticipation of his impending death is based on real and substantial grounds,” City Press quoted the court papers as saying.
The government has neither confirmed nor denied whether Mandela is or was on life-support.
Makaziwe was giving evidence during a case involving Mandela’s grandson Mandla Mandela, who removed some family members’ remains from their graves without permission.
Mandela, who remains critically ill in what is now his fourth week in hospital, had expressed his wish to be buried in Qunu, and his daughters want to have the children’s remains transferred so they can be together.
Mandela is globally hailed for promoting peace with his former oppressors and fostering racial reconciliation.
Mandla Mandela said yesterday he was puzzled why the court case involving the family’s graves had suddenly become urgent.
“I am struggling to date to understand why the matter has become so urgent. It has not been urgent in the past two years,” he said.
“Particularly now that my grandfather is in a critical state in hospital, the issue of the court came as a surprise to me.”
He reiterated that he held the right to determine where the country’s former president, and his grandfather, could be buried. “My grandfather reminded me that my first responsibility should be that of service to our people.”
He said he was “duly installed” as chief of the Mvezo traditional council at a ceremony with his grandfather present, along with the current king and family.
“Individuals make claims against my legitimacy, they wait for all these years to do this. My grandfather did prophecise about these days.”
Mandla Mandela defended his right to lead the Mandela clan, detailing its history and how a white magistrate removed its chieftancy. The Eastern Cape High Court on Wednesday dismissed Mandla Mandela’s application to halt the exhumations of Nelson Mandela’s three children.
Mandla Mandela exhumed and moved the graves from Qunu to Mvezo in 2011.
A group of Mandela family members approached the court to have the bodies exhumed and moved back to the family graveyard in Qunu.
Yesterday, Mandla Mandela said he will not take the court challenge further.
“I was denied the right to be heard. I will not challenge this further, it will serve no purpose,” he told reporters. “In the past few days I have been the subject of attacks from all sorts of individuals wanting a few minutes of fame and media attention at my expense.” — Sapa/Al Jazeera