Pressure mounts to open Mandela gravesite to public

The government and Mandela family are under public pressure to open the gravesite of world icon Nelson Mandela at his Qunu’s home just outside Mthatha.

Nelson Mandela Picture: GALLO IMAGES

While celebrating Mandela Day at the Nelson Mandela Museum in Mthatha, Eastern Cape arts and culture MEC Pemmy Majodina spoke of the pressure and demand to open the site for public viewing.

“It is clearly understood that Madiba was for all of us. But a grave is a family matter. It should be something that is decided by the family and there are sensitivities around any grave that should be respected,” Majodina said.

She said there were serious discussions between the government and Mandela family over the possibilities of opening the gravesite for public viewing.

“We are still busy with those discussions and negotiations. I know every year we celebrate Mandela Day as people who loved our Madiba [but people] have only one question: when is the gravesite of Mandela open to the public?”

Family spokesman and Madiba’s eldest grandson Chief Mandla Mandela would only say the issue of the grave “is still an internal debate within the family”.

The world icon’s gravesite has always been of interest for citizens with some even suggesting it should be turned into a tourist attraction.

The Mandela Day event on Tuesday started with the handing over of structures to Qunu Clinic and the refurbishment of Milton Mbekela Senior Secondary School.

There was also the launch of One Million Seedlings Project in collaboration with British America Tobacco (BAT), followed by the handing over of 67 blankets to Gogo Novoti Old-Age Home in Ngangelizwe.

The Mandela legacy canvas bought by BAT from a fundraising auction in 2011 was also officially unveiled.

The canvas is made from the hand prints of 67 well-known figures that included politicians and sports personalities.

Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Desmond van Rooyen called for an intensification of the fight against poverty as part of the Mandela legacy.

The event was also attended by the granddaughters of former President FW De Klerk.

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