Doctors advised Nelson Mandela’s family that his life support should be turned off because he was in a ‘permanent vegetative state’, court documents reveal.
The revelation from members of the former president’s family came as part of a family dispute over the graves of three of his children.
Court documents from June 26 said: ‘He is in a permanent vegetative state and is assisted in breathing by a life support machine.
‘The Mandela family have been advised by the medical practitioners that his life support machine should be switched off.
‘Rather than prolonging his suffering, the Mandela family is exploring this option as a very real probability.’
The remains of the 94-year-old’s three deceased children were reburied at their original resting site following a court order to return them after Mandela moved the bodies.
It comes as the bitter feud between Mandela’s family descended into soap opera farce today when his grandson and heir Mandla accused relatives of adultery and milking the fame of the revered anti-apartheid leader.
In a news conference broadcast live on TV that stunned South Africans, Mandla confirmed rumours that his young son, Zanethemba, was in fact the child of an illicit liaison between his brother Mbuso and Mandla’s now ex-wife Anais Grimaud.
Return: Following a court case which granted Mandela’s family the right to relocate the remains to Qunu, the remains were returned
With Mandela on life-support in a Pretoria hospital, the escalating feud has transfixed and appalled South Africa in equal measure.
‘Mbuso impregnated my wife,’ Mandla said in Mvezo, the Eastern Cape village 700 km (450 miles) south of Johannesburg where Mandela was born and where Mandla serves as the formal chief of the clan.
Mandla, 39, first raised questions about his son’s paternity last year when he split from French-speaking Grimaud, who has since moved back home to the Indian Ocean island of Reunion. He also revealed then that he was unable to have children.
His attempts to get the family to address the questions of Zanethemba’s paternity had been rebuffed in the interests of preserving a semblance of unity in South Africa’s most famous family, Mandla said.
Last journey: The hearse, foreground centre, carrying the remains of family members of former President Nelson Mandela drive to the grave site, with Nelson Mandela’s house, at rear left
‘This matter has never been discussed by the so-called members of the family who say that they want to ensure there is harmony in this family,’ he said, challenging reporters to conduct DNA tests to confirm his allegations.
‘The facts are there. You may go and find out, do the necessary tests that are needed,’ he said. His brother Mbuso has denied being the father of the child.
Newspapers have plastered ‘Mandela vs. Mandela’ headlines across their front pages and editorials have bemoaned the cruel irony of bitter divisions inside the family of a man lauded the world over as the epitome of reconciliation between races.
The government said that Mandela remained ‘critical but stable’ after nearly four weeks in hospital.
The sleepy community of Mvezo, set amid the rolling hills of the Eastern Cape, has been at the centre of a vicious dispute that may ultimately determine where South Africa’s first black president will be laid to rest.
Two years ago, Mandla exhumed the bodies of three of Mandela’s children from Qunu, where Mandela grew up, and moved them the 20 km to Mvezo, where Mandla has built a visitor centre and a memorial centre dedicated to his grandfather.
Mandla said he moved the bodies based on his right as chief to decide the final resting place of family members, especially his father Makgatho who died of an AIDS-related illness in 2005.
‘I hold the right to determine where he is buried. I am the chief of Mvezo, as a traditional leader and the head of the royal house of Mandela,’ said Mandla, dressed in a black leather jacket and red shirt.
Despite his assertions, many of South Africa’s 53 million people believe the exhumations were part of a deliberate plan to ensure Mandela was buried in Mvezo.
United: ‘Whatever is the outcome of his stay in hospital, that will remain the second time where he offered his nation an opportunity to be united under the banner of our flag, under the banner of our constitution,’ she said
Last week, a rival faction of the family, led by Mandla’s aunt Makaziwe and including Mbuso, won a court order for the bodies to be returned to Qunu – an edict carried out late on Wednesday after a last-minute legal bid by Mandla failed.
Speaking calmly and deliberately in front of a bank of cameras, Mandla lashed out at Makaziwe and members of the wider family, accusing them of trying to cash in on the legacy of one of the 20th century’s most respected political figures.
‘This is the very family that has taken their own father, their own grandfather, to court for his monies,’ he said, referring to a long-running legal bid by Makaziwe to remove the guardians of a Mandela charitable trust.
‘It seems like anyone and everyone can come and say ‘I am a Mandela’ and demand to be part of the decision-making in this family,’ he said. ‘Individuals have abandoned their own families and heritage and decided to jump on the Mandela wagon.’
Visits: Mandela, who was hospitalized on June 8, remains in critical but stable condition, according to a statement today by President Jacob Zuma’s office. Zuma visited Mandela today
Makaziwe has declined to comment on the graves dispute, telling reporters that it is a ‘private family matter’.
The three Mandela children exhumed from Mvezo are an infant girl who died in 1948, a boy, Thembi, who died in a car crash in 1969, and Mandla’s father, Makgatho. In all, Mandela fathered six children from his three marriages.
Today family members and community elders attended a ceremony on the Mandela property that included the singing of hymns.
The reburial took place in Qunu, Mandela’s hometown and the place the former president has said he wants to be buried.
Forensic tests earlier confirmed the remains were those of Mandela’s children.
The bitter family feud comes as Mandela remains in critical condition nearly a month after being hospitalized for a recurring lung infection.
A Mandela family court affidavit, obtained by the Mail and Guardian newspaper, said Mandela is on life support in the form of a breathing respirator.
Mandla Mandela had refused to cooperate with the court order, forcing bailiffs to act in Mvezo
Mandla Mandela – the oldest male Mandela heir and a tribal chief – told a news conference on Thursday that ‘my grandfather like myself would be highly disappointed in what is unraveling.’
Meanwhile, Mandela’s wife said the former president is sometimes uncomfortable but seldom in pain while being treated in a hospital.
Graca Machel spoke about her husband’s condition at a fundraising drive for a children’s hospital that will be named after the 94-year-old anti-apartheid leader.
‘Whatever is the outcome of his stay in hospital, that will remain the second time where he offered his nation an opportunity to be united under the banner of our flag, under the banner of our constitution,’ she said.
Mandela, who was hospitalized on June 8, remains in critical but stable condition, according to a statement today by President Jacob Zuma’s office. Zuma visited Mandela Thursday, said the statement.
Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years during white racist rule and was freed in 1990 before being elected president in all-race elections. He won the Nobel Peace Prize along with former President F.W. de Klerk.
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