JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — As a boy, Mandla Mandela wanted nothing more than to be a disc jockey in the city. But his grandfather, former South African President Nelson Mandela, picked him to live in the rolling hills of Eastern Cape province as leader of the family and chief of its clan.
It’s a family now engulfed by an acrimonious feud, even as the elder statesman lies critically ill.
The bitterness spilled out Thursday as Mandla Mandela accused a half brother, Mbuso, of impregnating Mandla’s wife; called another brother, Ndaba, illegitimate; and said Nelson Mandela’s eldest daughter, Makaziwe, was sowing “divisions and destruction” in the family.
His assertions followed accusations this week by Ndaba Mandela that Mandla was illegitimate, an apparent effort to topple him as chief as the family battles over future use of the famous Mandela name — and the money it might generate.
“I do not want to hang out our dirty linen as a family in public,” Mandla Mandela said at a news conference, before he proceeded to do just that. “But he (Ndaba) knows very well that my father impregnated a married woman, of which he is the result of that act. So he should be very careful when he wants to throw insults, particularly to my mother, who still sits by my side and ensures that I am able to wake up every day to serve my community.”
Mandla Mandela, chief of the AbaThembu clan, lost a court battle Wednesday to other family members, forcing him to surrender the bones of his father and two of his father’s siblings, the three deceased children of Nelson Mandela.
Makaziwe Mandela-Amuah and other family members accused the chief of stealing the remains from the former president’s home village of Qunu and reburying them at his homestead at Mvezo to ensure that Nelson Mandela also would eventually be buried there.